Klinghoffer: bin Laden’s Death Proves Creationism

This one is a bit of a stretch, even for the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

This has just appeared at the Discoveroids’ blog: The Osama/”Junk DNA” Connection. It’s by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist). We won’t bother reciting Klinghoffer’s scholarly creationist oeuvre, but you can check it out in this recent post.

In his latest stunner, Klinghoffer manages to skillfully tie together the recent death of Osama bin Laden and the Discoveroids’ bizarre claim that There’s No Such Thing as Junk DNA. We’ll get to bin Laden in a minute, but first, dear reader, it’s vital for you to understand that there can’t be any junk DNA, because the existence of debris in the genome offends the Discoveroids’ concept of an all-wise Designer — blessed be he!

The Discoveroids have leaped upon recent research (not conducted by them, of course) showing that some tiny segments of previously unexplored DNA have some function. From there they’ve leaped to the wild conclusion that there isn’t any junk DNA, which “proves” that the handiwork of the Designer is perfect and free of flaws. Not only are they no kin to no monkey, but they ain’t got no junk DNA either.

Where does Osama bin Laden fit into this “no junk DNA” fantasy? Stay with us, you’ll see. Here are some excerpts from Klinghoffer’s brilliant essay, with bold font added by us:

How do you think OBL’s body was identified? By a comparison with his sister’s DNA, evidently those non-coding regions singled out by Darwin defenders, among the pantheon of other mythological evolutionary icons, as functionless “junk.” Indeed, the myth has featured in news coverage of Osama’s death.

We’ll skip Klinghoffer’s quotes from news sources. Essentially, they say that some junk sequences of bin Laden’s DNA were compared with his sister’s DNA, thus proving that they’re related. Let’s read on:

Readers of this space … will know how thoroughly the myth [of junk DNA] has already being debunked in peer-reviewed scientific literature.

Yes, we all know how well the “myth” has been debunked. All that was required to do that debunking was a couple of Discoveroid posts by Casey. Then — like magic — there was no more junk DNA. (Except that there is, and lots of it.) Klinghoffer continues:

If Darwin is right, there ought to be huge swaths of ancestral garbage cluttering the genome, serving no purpose other than to identify otherwise unidentified forensic remains. So if those huge swaths turn out after all to be vitally important to the functioning organism, what does that say about Darwin’s theory?

We’ll deal with that “crisis” if it should ever arise, which it won’t. We predict, however, that even if every atom in our genome were 100% essential (which doesn’t seem even remotely probable) it wouldn’t do a thing to Darwin’s theory. We can still use DNA to trace our evolutionary ancestry.

Here’s Klinghoffer’s powerful conclusion:

Let’s see how many Darwin lobbyists have the guts and honesty to acknowledge that another icon has fallen. They have not, on the whole, left themselves a lot of room for deniability on this.

M’god — he thinks he’s got us cornered! It’s quite amazing what the demise of Osama bin Laden means to a Discoveroid. Well, let’s be fair here. Klinghoffer’s ostensible point (a cover for his “no junk DNA” mantra) is that the media are misleading the public by still claiming that junk DNA exists. But we know what he’s really thinking.

In your humble Curmudgeon’s opinion, the boys in Seattle would have more credibility (they have zero now) if they claimed bin Laden’s death was faked as part of a Darwinist plot. There’s no junk in our genome, so that comparison of “junk DNA” with bin Laden’s sister was worthless! Hey, Klinghoffer, play it smart — demand the death certificate!

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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61 responses to “Klinghoffer: bin Laden’s Death Proves Creationism

  1. I confess to having read Klingdoofus’ article twice having skipped over it all day. After the first reading I was, like, “Huh?” And after the second reading I was, like, “Huh?”

    There is no point. Klingtardo certainly out-jumped the shark on this one. But, on the bright side, Klingermoron would make an excellent speech writer for Donald Trump!

  2. waldteufel

    I wonder if there is any junk DNA in that strange animal that lives atop Trump’s head?

  3. I think he’s officially lost his mind.

  4. Gabriel Hanna

    It must be sickening for David, to have to turn out this pathetic and increasingly desperate garbage on a periodic basis; if he moved off Mercer Island his house payment would be a lot lower and he could afford to do some honest work.

    Interesting to know that “the Designer” knew we’d catch bin Ladin and thoughtfully provided all the junk DNA we’d need–hey, I got it! THAT’S the junk DNA’s function: to prove common descent and evolution! That will be the final hill that DI defends, I bet.

  5. Gabriel Hanna says:

    It must be sickening for David, to have to turn out this pathetic and increasingly desperate garbage on a periodic basis

    I’m confident he finds the work very satisfying. He’s the right man in the right job.

  6. But I thought that the official ID explanation for bad design was that bad design is still design: There is no need for an intelligent design to be perfect. How, then, does ID predict that there is no junk DNA?

  7. So the Klingon argues that the variable numbers of repeating segments of non-coding DNA in the 13 specific areas used for forensic comparison actually have specific designed purposes? If so, Klingo, what are those purposes, and why did the designer encode such a variety of repeats from person to person? Since the number of repeated segments inherited from each parent is usually different, how does that play out in the function of the cell for these 13 different sites?

    I know, I know, those are scientific questions, and therefore not appropriate for an ID creationist…..

  8. > “… the boys in Seattle would have more credibility (they have zero now) …”

    Their credibility is measured in complex numbers (it’s imaginary).

    > “… functioning organism, what does that say about Darwin’s theory?”

    Yeah! I bet Darwin even plagiarized this whole Junk DNA idea from Susuno Ohno (Darwin has a time machine, don’t you know).

  9. TomS says:

    But I thought that the official ID explanation for bad design was that bad design is still design

    Ah, you’re referring to this from six weeks ago: Discovery Institute Tolerates Bad Design. But you must understand — the Discoveroids’ science is advancing so rapidly that yesterday’s dogma may be inoperative today. You gotta keep up with things.

  10. How is this guy not totally ashamed of himself?????

    Seriously???

    I just cannot understand the amount of stoopid that goes into these writings. It seriously boggles the mind.

  11. Gabriel Hanna

    @LRA:I just cannot understand the amount of stoopid that goes into these writings.

    I don’t think it is literal stupidity. It is carefully-crafted disinformation. I know for a fact that Klinghoffer knows exactly what is wrong with his arguments; he goes on making them because they are effecetive with his intended audience.

  12. I don’t think it is literal stupidity. It is carefully-crafted disinformation. I know for a fact that Klinghoffer knows exactly what is wrong with his arguments; he goes on making them because they are effecetive with his intended audience.

    I concur. There is no better explanation for their behaviour. They know what they are doing, they know they are misinforming, and they know this works all right with those they want to convince.

  13. But WHY??? Why are they doing this? Do they have no sense of ethics?

    I just don’t get it!!!!

  14. LRA asks: “Why are they doing this? Do they have no sense of ethics?”

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  15. Gabriel Hanna

    LRA:Do they have no sense of ethics?

    They do, kill “materialism” by any means necessary. They have an ethic, it is different from yours or mine.

    We like to say “the ends don’t justify the means”, but that’s a pretty lazy thought. What, besides an end, could POSSIBLY justify any kind of means? What we mean to say is that the end doesn’t NECESSARILY justify the means.

    DI thinks lying is justified by the damage that “materialism” does to society. This “materialism”, and this “damage”, exist entirely in their own minds. Lots of people have delusions like this, that if we can only get at the root cause of our ills everything will straighten up and be perfect. But we never have just ONE BIG THING wrong with everything.

  16. Curmie- glad I made you laugh.

    Gabe- I still don’t get it. Then again, I suppose I’m not delusional.

  17. Klinghoffer is a professional writer, who aside for his diatribes on the DI site, primarily writes on religious topics. All of his books to my knowledge are on religion. He has a bachelors degree from Brown, but never mentions what he majored in so I am guessing it is liberal arts.

    Given the above, it is entirely possible that he actually believes what he is told by others at the DI regarding “junk” DNA. Of course, that doesn’t give him immunity from ridicule – which should be heaped on him anytime he pretends to argue any sort of scientific topic.

  18. Everything Darwin said about DNA is wrong !!!
    Oh, wait, Darwin never said anything about DNA.
    … never mind …

  19. in his insanity, at best he sounds like a polite member of the Westboro Baptist Church

  20. Gabriel Hanna

    @Ed:Given the above, it is entirely possible that he actually believes what he is told by others at the DI regarding “junk” DNA.

    I personally, as well as some other regulars here, have explained these topics to David at LENGTH.

  21. Adam Smith

    I love these “proofs” for creationism, “A” is not true therefore god must exist. Meanwhile, NO evidence is provided for the existence of a god. The holes in understanding where creationist can plug in their god are becoming smaller and smaller.

  22. There’s something in Klinghoffer’s ravings that’s even more deliciously stupid than what you’ve extracted here.

    First, he says that since Osama’s body was identified by comparing his junk DNA to that of a relative, that means that the junk DNA isn’t junk, but functional.

    Then, he says “If Darwin is right, there ought to be huge swaths of ancestral garbage cluttering the genome, serving no purpose other than to identify otherwise unidentified forensic remains.” Uh… there is. That’s what they used. Ancestral garbage.

    He seems to imply in one moment that DNA can only be retained if it’s NOT junk… and then immediately says that if Darwin was right, we should see LOTS of retained junk. Which we do, and which contradicts the entire idea of junk not being retained.

    Trying to get these guys to express a consistent idea is like trying to nail jello to the wall.

  23. Everything Darwin said about DNA is wrong !!! Oh, wait, Darwin never said anything about DNA. … never mind …

    That’s pretty much what I was thinking. That’s really how it kind of reads. It blows my mind (sort of, in a way, but not really) that Klinghoffer’s readers don’t, apparently, look for any outside information in regards to what he’s spouting off. They seem to only listen to other creationists.

    I would think that even they’d get curious every now and again and look into something. But no, apparently not his readers. We’re all influenced by outside opinion, but the number of people who literally allow other people to do their thinking for them

  24. This post seems to have gone viral. Getting thousands of hits from Twitter and Facebook. I don’t have accounts there, so I have no idea what’s going on. But it’s good to let the world know about the Discoveroids.

  25. Of all people, Roger Ebert pimped you!

  26. Roger Ebert the movie critic? That’s okay, but I haven’t seen a movie since Casablanca.

  27. To answer the question about what’s going on . . . speaking for myself, this is the funniest thing I’ve read all day.

    Great blog in general. I’m glad that this post brought it to my attention.

  28. I’m not sure if the discoveroids are unfamiliar with logic or they just consider logic a dirty word. This latest screed should be required reading in an introductory philosophy/critical thinking class.

    Any normal person would be shamed by this adolescent level argument.

  29. Creationists are not stupid; they are desperately afraid. They believe if one error is present in the Bible, then the whole Bible is a fraud. For this reason, they will go to any lengths to come up with an explanation for all natural phenomena. Contrary to what the media portrays, most Christians have no problems with evolution or with the idea that the Bible, especially, the Old Testament is not literal. As a Christian and a holder of a doctorate in chemist, I am sorry that Creationists cannot enjoy the wonders of science as well as the joys of faith.

  30. Jan Maxwell says:

    Contrary to what the media portrays, most Christians have no problems with evolution or with the idea that the Bible, especially, the Old Testament is not literal.

    We point that out all the time around here.

  31. Congrats, SC. You’re in the Big Time now!
    We always knew it would happen.

  32. P.S. I’m watching a hi-def version of “North by Northwest”. Since that came out after “Casablanca”, I’d like to recommend it. It’s quite good!

  33. Gary says: “We always knew it would happen.”

    It’s happened before. Things always settle down afterwards.

  34. It’s not like scientists have ever been wrong about anything, right?

  35. @Dean: And your point is…?

  36. Riiiiiggghhhtttt, Dean. Because a bunch of religious speculative hulaboo just can’t possibly be wrong… especially when there’s absolutely no evidence to support it– *none* *what* *so* *ever*…

    Meanwhile, scientists are actually improving the body of scientific knowledge by continually testing and updating as new data becomes available such that they continue to improve the lives of people on the planet everywhere…

  37. Gary says: “@Dean: And your point is…?”

    His “point” is being a hit-and-run creationist attempting to show how clever he is. The penalty for that is being banned.

  38. Curmudgeon: “blessed be he!”

    Was that reference to a prominent Discoveroid by accident or design? :-)

  39. Jan Maxwell: “Creationists are not stupid; they are desperately afraid. They believe if one error is present in the Bible, then the whole Bible is a fraud.”

    Except that the the Discoveroids (subset of “creationists”) who have taken a position have admitted that the evidence does not support any of the mutually-contradictory literal interpretations of Genesis. Though their need to pander to literalists forces them sometimes to encourage belief of literal interpretation (e.g. Dembski’s recent “flood” speech) in spite of lack of evidence.

  40. Frank J asks: “by accident or design?”

    Everything is by design. Everything!

  41. @Gabe: I personally, as well as some other regulars here, have explained these topics to David at LENGTH.

    Klinghoffer is a true believer on a holy quest to eradicate the evil of Darwinism. Why would he believe anything you or others say in support of evolution? He did not come to believe in ID because he was convinced by it’s assertions, he believes in it because he believes God created the universe and everything in it, and ID supports that belief. For Klinghoffer, evolution just cannot be right, no matter what the evidence. So, in my opinion, Klinghoffer probably really believes the weird stuff he writes.

    I believe he should be roundly ridiculed every time he says stupid things, and pushed to defend ever more untenable positions – not so much to change Klinghoffer’s mind, but to shine a light on the absurdity of his thinking for those readers who might otherwise give him credibility.

  42. Mmm, I thought they used DNA repeats because they’re easy to count and inherited but not especially affected by selection: because they’re junk!

  43. Everything is by design. Everything!

    But what about things that don’t exist?

    I contend that many (perhaps all) non-existent things are designed.

    Centaurs, flying carpets, and even impossible objects, like a “Penrose triangle”, they are all intelligently designed. They have to be designed, because they could not come about by natural means (they violate natural laws, after all).

    But that does present a bit of a problem. For that means that intelligent design is not an explanation for the existence of something. Intelligent design is not a guarantee of existence, so there must be some other explanation for the existence of something.

  44. Gabriel Hanna

    @TomS: Intelligent design is not a guarantee of existence, so there must be some other explanation for the existence of something.

    It’s an intriguing approach, but apply that argument to, say, Grand Coulee Dam, or a flint arrowhead for that matter. Things that have been designed by humans are obviously designed, and obviously exist. Humans didn’t create the atoms from nothing, so it is true that intelligent design isn’t ENTIRELY sufficient to explain the existence of those things, but it’s pretty obvious given our knowledge of human capabilities and intentions how those things got there.

  45. @Gabe, TomS:

    Does it make a difference that evolved, biological entities did the designing and construction of these things? A bird builds a nest, for example, or a beaver builds a dam – the nest and the dam would not exist but for the capability of an evolved organism. Are they then evidence of design, or simply evidence of a stage of evolution in the creatures which built them?

    Early human tools can be placed in a sequence of increasing sophistication covering long periods of time, which tells us a great deal about the evolving human populations. They are designed artifacts, true, but like birds nests and beaver dams, the real interest is in the information we can gather about the creatures that made them.

    One of my beefs with ID is that most advocates refuse to study or speculate on any aspect of the designer. They instead invent analogies between biological processes and digital computer code, and similar inanities. If the world were actually designed, the nature of that design should tell us something about the designer. ID advocates do not venture down that path.

  46. Gabriel Hanna

    Does it make a difference that evolved, biological entities did the designing and construction of these things?

    Yes. You can tell a beaver dam from a fallen tree with no trouble. You can tell Grand Coulee Dam from a landslide with no trouble. A dam designed by intelligent machines would most likely be very similar to Grand Coulee dam.

    Design isn’t merely a kind of evolution. Humans can design things that are detrimental to survival and reproduction, can’t they–and haven’t they?

    One of my beefs with ID is that most advocates refuse to study or speculate on any aspect of the designer. They instead invent analogies between biological processes and digital computer code, and similar inanities. If the world were actually designed, the nature of that design should tell us something about the designer. ID advocates do not venture down that path.

    Of course I endorse this unreservedly. If they knew anything about the capabilities and intentions of their “Designer”–that they could say publicly–they WOULD be doing science.

    But since the Designer is God, God has whatever powers and intentions they care to assume for any reason, which makes it NOT science any more.

  47. Ed: “Klinghoffer is a true believer on a holy quest to eradicate the evil of Darwinism. Why would he believe anything you or others say in support of evolution?”

    The strange way that he (& most Discoveroids for that matter) peddles denial makes me strongly suspect that he does privately accept evolution. But also that he would not admit it to save his life.

  48. Gabriel Hanna: “Of course I endorse this unreservedly. If they knew anything about the capabilities and intentions of their ‘Designer’–that they could say publicly–they WOULD be doing science.”

    What they can, and occassionally do, say publicly, is a few words about what the designer did when. Trouble is, when they do – on increasingly rare occasions – it concedes virtually everything (e.g. old life, common descent) to evolution. Mostly, though, they play “don’t ask, don’t tell” so as not to offend those YECs and OECs who do liberally make testable (& easily falsified) “what happened when” statements.

  49. Frank J says:

    The strange way that he (& most Discoveroids for that matter) peddles denial makes me strongly suspect that he does privately accept evolution. But also that he would not admit it to save his life.

    Persistent creationism in adults who have been exposed to correct information indicates a serious flaw in either intellect or character — or both. I don’t see any other explanation.

  50. Buzz Parsec

    Let me see if I have this straight? Junk DNA is inconsistent with ID. Since ID is true, there can’t be any such thing as junk DNA as an intelligent designer would never create junk. Therefore junk DNA doesn’t exist. (This is proven by the fact that a tiny amount of what was regarded as junk DNA was recently found to actually have a function.)

    Doesn’t this imply that if junk DNA exists, ID is false?

    But there are mountains of evidence for the existence of junk DNA.

    Game over! Science wins! By the DI’s own argument, no intelligent designer exists.

    Oh, but wait. The non-existence of junk DNA proves ID. But, they will certainly argue the existence of junk DNA also proves ID. I like Mike’s line about nailing jello to the wall.

  51. Tomato Addict

    > “I like Mike’s line about nailing jello to the wall.”

    Rumor has it that the interior walls at the Discovery Institute are a splotchy lime-green color, and full of holes.

  52. Gabriel Hanna

    @FrankJ:But also that he would not admit it to save his life.

    Actually he already did.

    http://blog.beliefnet.com/kingdomofpriests/2009/07/peace-in-our-time-with-francis-collins-how-far-is-too-far.html#more-164

    “that life has an evolutionary history including billions of years of change — that is unassailable as science and unobjectionable to me as a Jew.”

    He refused to expound further on that, despite our best efforts.

  53. @Gabriel

    Thanks. I do remember reading that. Note though that he says “evolutionary history” and not “Darwinian evolution.” As does Michael Behe, who admits accepting common descent but not “macroevolution,” he chooses his words carefully. I think they (most or all Discoveroids and many classic YECs and OECs) know that they are attacking a caricature when they “religiously” refer to “Darwinism.”

  54. Persistent creationism in adults who have been exposed to correct information indicates a serious flaw in either intellect or character — or both. I don’t see any other explanation.

    Other explanations:

    It can take a long time. It took five years for me to be convinced that I had been fed lies, distortions and ignorance since childhood. And that was after I decided to take a serious, critical look at creation vs. evolution. It took decades to get to that point. Keep saying it even if it has been said a million times. God only knows how many times it took to finally get through to me.

    You will lose everything. Family. Friends. Marriage. The only community you’ve every known. All the time and/or money invested over a lifetime. It’s exactly the same mentality that causes gamblers to double-down when they’re already in the hole. Throwing away 40 years of your life and being shunned by everyone you know isn’t something most people are willing to do on a whim. Be patient.

    Evangelicals have put a stake in the ground on this one. Creationism has gone from a tertiary issue to being a defining feature of what it is to be a Christian. This is why arguments that the majority of Christians have no problem with evolution have zero effect: people who have no problem with evolution are not Christians according to these people. An evangelical accepting evolution means spending all of eternity burning in a literal Hell. Getting past that when it has been pounded into your head since preschool and continually reinforced by everyone in your life is no simple thing. Again, be patient.

  55. Good comment, Ric Frost. I was mostly thinking of creationist politicians and promoters, for whom I have only contempt, never sympathy. But you’re right. I’ll modify my earlier statement. It’s now this:

    Except for victims of lifelong abusive brainwashing, persistent creationism in adults who have been exposed to correct information indicates a serious flaw in either intellect or character — or both. I don’t see any other explanation.

  56. Ric brought up a great point, which I agree with completely. For the evangelistic community, using logic and facts alone to argue against creationism is a difficult strategy. More work needs to be done to address the reasons why creationism is so important to evangelicals. Biologos is following that strategy, clearly, but more would be better, and especially when it comes to public matters such as opposition to “academic freedom” acts and the like. Recognized religious leaders should step forward and talk about their view of genesis creationism as a “just-so” story or myth anytime they can reach a wide audience (such as when a creationism bill is pending in a local legislature).

  57. longshadow

    This is why arguments that the majority of Christians have no problem with evolution have zero effect: people who have no problem with evolution are not Christians according to these people.

    Excellent point.

    Recognize our old friend — the “No True Scotsman” argument?

  58. No junk DNA? I think it is clear that all of Klinghoffer’s DNA is junk – there’s just no other explanation for the depth of his stupidity.

  59. So, IDers are now ultra-selectionists or ultra-Darwinians?