Monthly Archives: March 2012

AIG on the Tennessee Creationism Bill

You all know that the Tennessee Creationism Bill Passed in the Legislature and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Now let’s see what they think of it at Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of young-earth creationist wisdom. AIG is the online creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia.

This is found in AIG’s latest News to Note, March 31, 2012 — “A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint.” It’s the third item at their news summary, titled “Academic freedom to “teach the controversy” in Tennessee awaits the governor’s signature.” AIG says, with bold font added by us:

Tennessee has the chance to join Louisiana as a state in which children have freedom to critically analyze popular scientific positions rather than simply taking the word of their textbooks on faith.

That’s great. We can’t have the kiddies believing stuff merely on faith. The AIG report continues:

The new law will protect teachers who “teach the controversy,” allowing students to discover that scientific interpretations do not all toe the popular party line, an impression often given in textbooks. After all, even Darwin critically discussed some aspects of his ideas, such as the lack of transitional forms in the fossil record.

By all means, they should follow Darwin’s example! Let’s read on:

Of course, we contend that all such scientific explanations of life’s origins rely on worldview-based assumptions that are scientifically unobservable and therefore untestable. In fact, teaching students that fact is part of “teaching the controversy.”

Yes! It’s so important to teach the kiddies that they shouldn’t rely on nonsense like testable hypotheses and sensory evidence. We continue:

Like a similar bill just passed in the Oklahoma House, HB368 [the Tennessee bill] is intended to “help students develop critical thinking skills they need in order to become intelligent, productive, and scientifically informed citizens.”

No doubt about it. Here’s more:

Both bills specify they “shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine.

We’ve dealt with that “shall not be construed” jive before. It’s a silly attempt to pretend that the legislature somehow really isn’t doing what it’s obviously doing, and they think we can’t figure it out. We’ve quoted ourselves on this before, but we think it’s worth repeating:

That clause comes from the Discoveroids’ own Academic Freedom Act — intended as a model to be adopted by deranged legislatures. That ridiculous “Hey, Judge: Here’s how to construe this law” section of such bills is comparable to a suicide-bomber’s explosive-laden vest being sewn with a tag saying: “Attention Bomb Squad Coroner: The deceased wearer of this garment should not be construed to be a suicide bomber.”

Moving along with AIG’s article:

David Fowler of the Family Action Council of Tennessee believes the bill’s vocal opponents “have a political agenda” as “the bill applies only to state-approved science curriculum, which excludes creationism and intelligent design.”

Gasp — an agenda to exclude creationism! Fowler’s the guy who got the bill’s language from the Discoveroids and passed it along to the legislature (see Lauri Lebo on Tennessee in “Scientific American”). The bill has a noble pedigree. Another excerpt from AIG:

Activists challenging the Tennessee bill are not only lobbying the governor’s office to obtain a veto but are trying to intimidate all who wish to provide academic freedom for Tennessee’s children and their teachers. Among the opposition, not surprisingly, is the National Center for Science Education. NCSE deputy director Glenn Branch expressed a thinly veiled threat of litigation evidently intended to frighten school officials.

Jeepers — a threat to apply the Constitution to a creationism bill. How horrible! One more excerpt from the article’s last paragraph:

We applaud the Tennessee legislature’s decision to allow teachers to truly teach without an enforced evolutionary bias. … Every person has a bias affecting the way he views scientific evidence. Therefore, we exhort Christian parents and churches to re-double their efforts to teach not only critical thinking skills but also the truth of the Bible as God’s Word. Students need to be taught the Bible is consistent with science both at church and home even while learning to critique conventional textbook content at school.

If the people of Tennessee follow the advice of AIG, their kids will grow up to be just like Ken Ham. Won’t that be wonderful?

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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April Fool’s Day — 2012

Tomorrow is the First of April, a date we’ve always celebrated around here. Our earlier years’ posts were:

Florida Creationism: April Fool’s Day or Poe’s Law? (2011), and before that
Time Traveler Arrested! (2010), and before that
Noah’s Flood Started 4,300 Years Ago Today (2010), and before that
Curmudgeon’s Secret Identity Revealed! (2009).

So the question arises: What will the internet bring us tomorrow? Such things are inherently unpredictable, but there is one thing we know with certainty — we won’t find anything remarkably April Foolish at the usual creationist websites. That’s because for them, every day is April Fool’s Day.

Anyway, this is a good opportunity for you, dear reader, to display your creativity. Give us your own April 1st headlines. With all the talent possessed by our readership, surely you can at least equal the best that the rest of the world can offer.

But this won’t be as easy as it seems. You must contend with Poe’s law. Therefore, whatever you offer must somehow transcend the typical, everyday creationist website headline. It’s quite a challenge.

So have at it. All we ask is that you keep it clean.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Faster Than Light Neutrinos: The Epilogue

When we posted Maybe Neutrinos Aren’t Faster Than Light a month ago, we thought that was the end of the story. But now there’s a little bit more to tell.

The BBC caries this story: Neutrino ‘faster than light’ scientist resigns. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

The head of an experiment that appeared to show subatomic particles travelling faster than the speed of light has resigned from his post.

Prof Antonio Ereditato oversaw results that appeared to challenge Einstein’s theory that nothing could travel faster than the speed of light.

When the news first broke back in September, and we posted Neutrinos Move Faster Than Light?, most of us were skeptical; but there were a few who thought Einstein was toast. You remember Discoveroid David Klinghoffer’s post. He was gloating that if relativity is collapsing, then evolution could collapse too. See Another One Bites the Dust?

After that, as we reported here, Ellis Washington, the leading creationist intellectual at WorldNetDaily, said:

Nothing in science is absolutely certain. Even today scientists are proving one of Einstein’s bedrock theories to be false – that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.

We also wrote about a rambling, incoherent reaction from another creationist outfit: Answers in Genesis & the Speed of Light. But let’s get back to the BBC article. They say:

Speaking at the time [of the original announcement], Professor Ereditato added “words of caution” because of the “potentially great impact on physics” of the result.

“We tried to find all possible explanations for this,” he said. “We wanted to find a mistake – trivial mistakes, more complicated mistakes, or nasty effects – and we didn’t.

“When you don’t find anything, then you say ‘well, now I’m forced to go out and ask the community to scrutinise this’.”

That was certainly the proper thing to do. Let’s read on:

Earlier this month, a test run by a different group at the same Italian laboratory recorded neutrinos travelling at precisely light speed.

The creationist websites didn’t report that. Here’s the end of the article:

So far, Professor Ereditato has not commented on his decision to step down from his post.

So that’s the story. Einstein’s theory is intact. And unfortunately for the creationists, there won’t be any domino effect that results in Darwin’s theory being the next to fall.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Answers in Genesis vs. Intelligent Design

At the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of young-earth creationist wisdom, there’s a rare example of the kind of article we like to see — about discord between the various sects of creationism. It’s always enjoyable to see creationists squabbling among themselves about the silly details of their anti-science ideology.

AIG is the online creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. It’s probably the most doctrinaire of all the young-earth, literal Genesis creationist outfits.

From time to time they publish their disagreements with other creationists who aren’t — in AIG’s opinion — pure enough in their beliefs. For some earlier examples, see Ken Ham Attacks Intelligent Design & Behe, and also AIG Rejects Theistic Evolution, and also Answers in Genesis: Insincere Reality Denial?, and also Creationism: A House Divided Against Itself. In other words, no one is fanatical enough to suit AIG.

Ol’ Hambo’s stridency sometimes creates problems for him (see Ken Ham: Everybody’s Leaving His Church!, and also Ken Ham Expelled from Homeschool Conventions!), but he doesn’t seem to care.

Anyway, AIG is at it again. Their newest is Commentary on the Intelligent Design Movement. This is a long article, so we’ll have to skip most of it, but it’s interesting for their analysis and criticisms of intelligent design — which of course is the flavor of creationism promoted by 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).

Okay, now you’re curious — why does AIG have a problem with ID? Here are some excerpts from their long explanation, with bold font added by us:

The Intelligent Design Movement (IDM) is an informal collaboration dedicated to exposing the problems with naturalistic evolution. As a movement, IDM challenges Darwinian evolution in schools, textbooks, and politics. There are some positive things about IDM but also some things that a Christian should consider carefully.

As you’ll see if you read the whole article, there aren’t very many “positive” things they say about ID, but they do make some attempt to avoid outright hostility. They begin with a discussion of intelligent design’s arguments:

These arguments are used by IDM, but are also used by creationists not affiliated with IDM. … Intelligent design arguments are those that confirm the existence of the Creator God (or at least a creator—not necessarily the biblical God). These arguments are based on the teleological argument for the existence of God. That is, living things appear to be designed for a function and with purpose and thus require a designer. Moreover, the universe and the earth appear to be “fine-tuned” so that life can exist.

That’s a fair description. But of course they don’t mention the utter lack of evidence for the actual existence of a designer. It’s all based on inferences and analogies. Then AIG criticize these arguments by saying:

These kinds of arguments (when used properly) can be very devastating to naturalistic particles-to-people evolution. However, they only indicate that life requires a creator. They do not necessarily require the Creator — the God of Scripture. Intelligent design arguments would work equally well for the god of Islam or any other god. For that matter, they might lead some to believe that extraterrestrial beings are responsible for life on earth.

Quite right. ID arguments don’t lead to any particular deity (see Intelligent Designer or Zeus?), and they don’t really accomplish anything except science denial. Then, having dismissed ID’s arguments, they discuss “The Intelligent Design Movement Strategy” and this is rather good:

IDM has approached the origins debate by limiting the scope of the argument to a single question: is something designed? They hope to avoid the common anti-religious bias of our culture by framing the question in a way that can be tested purely scientifically. Can we scientifically tell if something is designed by intelligence? If so, what are the characteristics we look for (such as irreducible complexity or creative information)? Whereas most public schools would never allow the Bible to be used as a source of information in a science classroom, challenges to Darwinism might be permitted on strictly scientific grounds. Those within IDM see their strategy as a way to challenge naturalistic evolution that avoids any “separation of church and state” issues.

That’s a good description of the Discoveroids’ strategy — but for one thing. They aren’t trying to “avoid the common anti-religious bias of our culture.” Rather, they’re trying to sneak around all the court cases that have ruled creationism in public schools to be a violation of the First Amendment. The US Constitution, drafted by men who knew all about the European wars of religion and the Salem witch trials, specifically intended to prevent theocracy in America, knowing full well that one sect’s shining city on a hill could swiftly turn into a flaming nightmare for everyone. In other words, the Discoveroids’ strategy is specifically designed to avoid the safeguards provided by the Constitution. Let’s read on:

Since IDM has limited its scope to the single question of whether something is designed, it does not endorse any particular religious view. Any person who believes in any god who created the universe or life in any way could be a member of IDM. This wedge strategy essentially divides belief about origins into two classes: naturalism and super-naturalism. By placing all super-naturalistic philosophies under the same “umbrella,” IDM hopes to present a more unified front than could be done by any single religiously motivated movement.

Yes, except that the Discoveroids’ wedge strategy specifically says: “Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.” That’s their true goal, but unlike AIG, they never admit it. We continue:

Recall that IDM exists primarily to refute Darwinian evolution. It does not exist to promote Christianity or biblical creation. Those Christians within the movement may see this as a clever strategy: perhaps they think that one must first remove the stumbling block of evolution before a person will even consider the merits of biblical Christianity. On the surface, this certainly sounds reasonable. After all, evolution certainly can be a stumbling block to Christianity. But there are some difficulties in attempting to refute a worldview in such a piecemeal fashion.

AIG then goes on to severely criticize the ID movement because it’s just not biblical enough. For example:

One problem with attempting to remove evolution by scientific evidence before exposing a person to the Bible (as IDM does) is this: without the Bible, a person cannot properly interpret the scientific evidence.

[...]

Instead, we suggest that these two tasks can be done simultaneously. We can both argue for the Bible, and simultaneously argue against evolution.

AIG goes on to explain why their biblical approach is superior. For example, ID has no explanation for disagreeable things found in nature. It’s really the old problem of evil, but AIG knows better than to raise that issue. Instead they confine it to biology:

[T]here are certain features of living organisms that appear to be designed to cause pain. Examples of this are thorns, bee stings, parasitic organisms, and carnivorous activity. Evolutionists argue that a good God would not have designed such things. Such features make more sense in an evolutionary world “red in tooth and claw.” This argument is particularly effective against Christians within the IDM because Christians argue that their Creator is a God of love.

AIG says that although evolution has an explanation for such things, ID has none, and then they claim that their biblical approach to such things is vastly superior, because it explains such phenomena as the result of sin.

Okay, we’ve gone on long enough. In sum, AIG applauds ID for challenging evolution, but for very little else. If you like to see schisms within creationism, you’ll want to read the whole article.

See also: Food Fight: Ken Ham vs. Intelligent Design.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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