Monthly Archives: August 2012

A Preacher Disputes Bill Nye

The whole world knows about the video in which Bill Nye Blasts Creationism. Now the creationists are fighting back.

In the Norwich Bulletin of Norwich, Connecticut we read Bill Nye should rethink creationism stance. It’s written by the Rev. Cal Lord, pastor at Central Baptist Church of Westerly. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

I love Bill Nye. He’s funny, entertaining and he has uncanny ability to make science interesting and fun for everyone.

The rev goes on for a couple of paragraphs about what a great guy Bill Nye is. But then the tone changes:

I think that is why I was shocked to hear of the video he put out this week. It is simply titled, “Creationism is not appropriate for children.” At first I thought it was a joke but as I watched it I realized he was quite serious.

That’s right, rev — it’s no joke. Let’s read on:

Nye, who was educated as a mechanical engineer, believes that the theory of evolution is the only credible truth as to how the universe was created and the only pathway to understanding how it works. He is not the first one, and he will not be the last, to hold these views.

The rev actually watched Nye’s video and he thinks evolution explains the creation of the universe? Anyway, we continue:

The Noble Peace Prize winning biologist, George Wald, was quoted in Scientific American magazine in 1957 as saying:

[The rev's purported George Wald quote:] “There are only two possibilities as to how life arose. One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution; the other is a supernatural creative act of God. There is no third possibility. Spontaneous generation, that life arose from non-living matter was scientifically disproved 120 years ago by Louis Pasteur and others. That leaves us with the only possible conclusion that life arose as a supernatural creative act of God. I will not accept that philosophically because I do not want to believe in God. Therefore, I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible; spontaneous generation arising to evolution.”

It’s difficult to believe that a biologist said such a thing — even a Peace Prize winner. Oh, we checked. According to Wikipedia, George Wald “won a share of the 1967 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.” Well, physiology … peace — what’s the difference?

Regardless of the prize (which is certainly impressive), did Wald really say what the Rev claims he said? To find out, we went to the TalkOrigins website, where they have a trove of information about creationist quote-mining. There we found: Quote #57. It discusses the very words quoted by the rev. Here’s what TalkOrigins says: “The quote is a complete fabrication.” Then they go on to quote what Wald actually wrote. It’s nothing like what the rev claims. Among other things, Wald wrote:

Our present concept of the origin of life leads to the position that, in a universe composed as ours is, life inevitably arises wherever conditions permit. We look upon life as part of the order of nature. It does not emerge immediately with the establishment of that order; long ages must pass before it appears. Yet given enough time, it is an inevitable consequence of that order.

Okay, so much for the rev’s Nobel Prize-winning authority. Moving along in the rev’s article:

So riddle me this: Who is doing a greater disservice to the children? Those who honestly share their belief in a creative spirit who designed this wonderful complex, interesting world or those who continue to promote a theory that has been proven impossible by the greatest minds of the ages?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! As the article draws to a close, the rev quotes scripture:

I wonder if Bill Nye has ever read the Psalms. In Psalm 8 King David looks up and asks, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. …

That’s nice. But what does it have to do with creationism? Here ya go:

These words have launched a thousand investigations and aroused the curiosity of young minds for centuries. I still like you, but maybe its time to think again Bill Nye?

So there you are, dear reader. The rev is probably a decent fellow, but he should stick to his trade and avoid giving opinions about science.

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

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My Bare Spacey, by Dr. Swinefat Pink

After patiently waiting for more than four years, you’re in for a rare treat, dear reader. We herewith bring you a new work by our most popular (and only) guest author — the esteemed “Dr. Swinefat Pink,” whose previous work was announced here: Coming Soon — Ben Stein as Indenial Jones (Sequel to Expelled), and which then appeared here: Deluders of the Noachic Ark: Part the First, and lastly here: Deluders of the Noachic Ark: Part the Second.

Now your long wait is over. This time it’s not an adventure tale, it’s a musical! We proudly present Dr. Pink’s latest:

My Bare Spacey

Our musical story opens in London in late November 2005, where coverage of the Kitzmiller-Dover Trial in the USA is prominent even in the British press.

In a celebrated Pall Mall club, an amicable but lively argument is in full swing between Professor Henry Higgsboson and his old friend, Colonel Snickering. Higgsboson holds that, by means of patient elucidation of the compelling empirical data, even an imbecilic religious zealot can appreciate the profound and majestic insights of the Darwinian Theory of Evolution. Col. Snickering, a battle-hardened veteran of the Crevo Wars, holds that maniacal cdesign proponentsists are beyond all hope or reason.

With neither able to persuade the other, the pair determine to put the matter to a scientific test. Higgsboson wagers 10 guineas that, given 6 days for patient explanation, he can convince even the most hardened Creationist that the evidence for the theory of Evolution is both sound and irrefutable. Accepting the bet, Snickering insists that he select the guinea pig for the test.

Higgsboson and Snickering fly to Seattle, home of the neo-Luddite Dysovary Institute, in search of the most benighted Creationist they can find. And they soon come across waif-like lapsed-geologist and sometime-lawyer Spacey Knowlittle, who is distributing Jack Chick tracts in Pike Street Market and singing a theme song outlining his theocratic vision, Wouldn’t it be Heavenly?

All I need’s a strategic Wedge,
Far, far beyond even reason’s edge,
Full of bull that we allege;
Aow, wouldn’t it be Heavenly?

Lots of money for me to earn,
Lots of heathens for me to burn!
Storm schools, storm courts, storm troops!
Aow, wouldn’t it be Heavenly?

Snickering rushes forward to make an offer to young Spacey: 6 days of an all-expenses paid private tutorial with the celebrated Professor Higgsboson. And Spacey, whom Faith makes fearless, accepts the deal.

But before they leave Pike Street Market, Spacey’s spiritual father, Jonathan Spells, arrives at the head of a large chorus of dancing Moonies, who perform an uplifting paean to the Intelligent Designer, With a Little Bit of Woo:

[Spells sings:] The Lord above gave germs whip-like flagella,
So they could swim and frolic as they please;
The Lord made germs, including salmonella
With a little bit of Woo,
With a little bit of Woo,
Only sinners ever catch disease!

[CHORUS OF MOONIES:] Oogity-boogity!
Oogity-boogity, that’s how God did it all!

Oogity-boogity explains it all!

Back at Higgsboson’s London classroom, the Professor begins Spacey’s lessons with a simple hominid cladogram and a musical account of common descent (song: Why the Bonobo is So Like a Man) and an introduction to Origin of Species:

HIGGSBOSON: Now Spacey, let me illustrate with a quote from Darwin: “I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term Natural Selection.” Do you understand this point?

SPACEY: (examining cladogram) In ‘ylobatidae, ‘ominidae, and ‘omo sapiens, haccidents ‘ardly hever ‘appen.

HIGGSBOSON: …Er, not quite. In fact, accidental copying errors in DNA are commonplace, and are one of the inputs for the workings of natural selection. And they help us trace the descent of ranges of organisms from a common ancestor, including ourselves. The span of man’s not hard to understand.

But unable to comprehend even the most basic principles, Spacey simply reiterates his mindless adherence to religious dogma in a song, The Plan of Man’s the Same Since Time Began, to the great amusement of the on-looking Colonel Snickering:

SNICKERING: By Jove, I think his brain has rotted! ‘Tis naught but bare space, his skull!

In total rejection of science, Spacey flees back to the Dysovary Institute and celebrates his return to their webpages in song:

I could have blogged all night!
I could have blogged all night!
And still have lied some more.
I could have spread my swill
And been a willing shill
For crap ne’er claimed before!
I’ll never know
What makes me so
Why all at once
My brain’s so slight.
I only know when I
Began to tell my lies
I could have blogged,
blogged all night!

He is joined by Jonathan Spells and the chorus of Moonies, who are also eagerly awaiting the Dover verdict, which they are convinced will put an end to ‘Darwinism’. They burst into a rousing song:

Chuck’s getting buried in the morning!
King Kong is sure no kin o’ mine!
Mentally we’re paupers,
But we can still tell whoppers!
So get me to the Court on time!

Spacey, Spells, and the Moonie chorus, however, are roundly disappointed when the Dover verdict goes against them, and they slither back to Seattle to regroup and continue their war on Reason.

Colonel Snickering insists he has thereby won the wager and demands his 10 guineas, but Professor Higgsboson insists he is not yet defeated. He is determined to try again, this time with a different Dysovary Institute luminary. He has answered an advertisement for a tutor for the many children of the despotic ruler of IamthatIam, and will endeavour to try again to inculcate the scientific education that was beyond the reach of Spacey Knowlittle.

But that story is a whole different musical: The Kling And I

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

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Creationist Wisdom #264: No Respect

Rodney Dangerfield

Rodney Dangerfield

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in The Advocate of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the title is Evolution backer disrespects others . We’ll give you a few excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis.

As we usually do, we’ll omit the writer’s name and city; but you should know that the writer is the same “management consultant” whose letter was featured in: Creationist Wisdom #260: Hook, Line, & Sinker. Okay, here we go:

What I like about James Houk’s letter of Aug. 25 (in response to mine of Aug. 20) is his description of science. He said, among other things, that “Standard science … is our best attempt to understand the world as it actually is.” I could not agree more.

He’s referring to this: Science is science, not religion. Today’s letter continues:

Where Professor Houk and I diverge is on the treatment of scientists and scientific findings that cast doubt on the adequacy of Darwin’s theory. He disrespects anyone who disagrees with his pro-Darwin position, including the 800 highly credentialed scientists who have endorsed the statement …

The letter-writer must be suffering from a bad case of the Seattle Virus. He once again — as he did in his earlier letter — refers to the Discoveroids’ sad little list of confused people who signed their Scientific Dissent From Darwinism.. We’ve discussed it here: NCSE’s “Project Steve” Now Has 1,200 Steves. On with the letter:

He [James Houk] belittles all of the signatories by referring to them as “scientists,” adding the quotation marks.

We could do better than that, but Houk was being polite. Let’s read on:

Houk also accuses all who question Darwin as having an “anti-evolution agenda.” Actually, I find the reality of evolution is not in doubt by any of the scientists who have published books and articles on the subject. The controversy (and it is indeed a controversy) is over the mechanisms involved.

Huh? What’s the controversy? Oh, he’s referring to the competing “theory” about the intelligent designer. We continue:

The actual mechanisms that drive evolution have not been found, and the quest for the truth remains one of the great unsolved problems in science.

Wow! Okay, here’s more:

Another rhetorical ploy used persistently by many Darwinists in general and by Houk in particular is to brand all who question Darwin as pushing “a religious agenda.” While there are indeed a few people with that motive [BWAHAHAHAHAHA!], it is quite wrong to assume that all the scientists who question Darwin have that view. My reading of their books indicates that they are keenly focused on the scientific issues. To accuse them all of having a hidden agenda is disrespectful and contemptuous.

Why is it that creationists don’t get any respect? It’s one of life’s great mysteries. Now we come to the end, and here we see (as we did in his earlier letter) the source of the letter-writer’s information:

I urge interested readers, including Houk, to judge for themselves by looking up some of the leading authors and their books on the weaknesses in Darwin’s theory, including Stephen C. Meyers, Donald E. Johnson, Michael J. Behe, William A. Dembski, Jonathan Wells, Jerry Fodor, Michael Denton, Lee Spetner, Thomas Woodward, and Geoffrey Simmons.

We don’t recognize a few of those names, but the bulk of them are Discoveroids. And for some inexplicable reason — like the letter-writer — they just can’t get any respect.

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

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Klinghoffer Disproves Darwin!

This will be one of our rare excursions into that unknown (to us) domain of social science. A day or so ago we saw this at PhysOrg: Small family size increases the wealth of descendants but reduces evolutionary success. The article discusses a century’s worth of data about 14,000 people born in Sweden and concludes:

The researchers found that having a small number of children increased the economic success and social position of descendants across up to four generations, but reduced the total number of long-term descendants. [Duh!] They conclude that the decision to limit family size can be understood as a strategic choice to improve the socioeconomic success of children and grandchildren in modern societies, but this socioeconomic benefit does not necessarily translate into an evolutionary benefit.

Here’s a link to the paper they’re talking about: Low fertility increases descendant socioeconomic position but reduces long-term fitness in a modern post-industrial society. Maybe we’re just grumpy today, but we’re not impressed. We understand that for an entire species, severe infertility can be an evolutionary dead-end, but in a numerous and highly successful species like ours, it’s a bit of a leap to confuse the fertility rates of prosperous Swedish families with evolutionary success. Anyway, let’s not dwell on that.

We were going to ignore the whole thing, but then it popped up at the blog of the neo-Luddite, 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).

The Discoveroid article is Family Size in Affluent Cultures: Another Failed Prediction of Darwinian Theory. It’s by David Klinghoffer, whose creationist oeuvre we last described here, and upon whom the Discoveroids have bestowed the exalted title of “senior fellow” — i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist. His name has some of the resonance of Red Skelton’s Clem Kadiddlehopper.

In his latest post, Klinghoffer (or Kadiddlehopper) imagines that the social science study we mentioned above somehow disproves Darwin’s theory of evolution. Really, that’s what he thinks. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us and his links omitted:

If natural selection really is the creative driving force behind the evolutionary development of species, you ought to find it programming creatures to maximize the number of their descendants.

That was his first sentence, and he’s wrong already. Natural selection is not a “creative driving force.” It’s a filter. Let’s read on:

But this prediction of Darwinian theory is foiled by research newly reported in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Scientists in Sweden and the UK studied a cohort of 14,000 Swedes born between 1915 and 1929, plotting the relationship between family size, social and biological success [link to the paper].

Darwin’s theory doesn’t hang on that “prediction,” and even if it did, the study proves nothing — Swedes are still reproducing. As for the reasons why wealthy families choose to limit the number of children they have, that’s hardly a mystery. Kids are expensive, especially if they’re expected to go to college. It makes sense not to have a dozen of them — well, unless you’re a Kennedy or something, in which case money is not a consideration.

The opposite behavior can be often observed in a rural family that operates a farm. They may choose to have many children — again, for economic reasons. These decisions have nothing to do with Darwin’s theory, unless one imagines that a wealthy, urban family has some kind of mysterious “prosperity gene” which could be the next big thing in human evolution. But no one is hypothesizing anything like that, so Darwin’s theory is unaffected. We continue:

I take this subject personally since, with five kids, my wife and I consider ourselves as having a packed house. However, that’s only relative to the culture around us — Seattle — which competes with San Francisco for the title of America’s most childless city. In other places our family would be considered modest in size. My brother-in-law and his wife in Jerusalem, for example, have 18 (eighteen) kids.

Aaaargh!! Skipping a bit, we come to this:

Given natural selection, you would expect one thing. What you get is the opposite. That’s called a failed prediction and Darwinists have a variety of strategies for dealing with those, as Cornelius Hunter [a Discoveroid "fellow"] writes …

We’ll skip most of the Hunter quote, but you’ve gotta see this:

[Klinghoffer quotes Hunter:] Evolutionists argue that evolution is a fact, and that we ought to focus on evolution’s successful predictions rather than its false predictions. The tendency to seek confirming evidence over contrary evidence is known as confirmation bias.

Right! In the Bizarro World of the Discoveroids, it’s evolutionists who overlook inconvenient facts, but creationists never do that. Klinghoffer concludes his brilliant essay with this:

Those British and Swedish researchers ought to have a chat with our friend Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education, who advises Darwin advocates to avoid giving the impression that evolutionary theory has any serious weaknesses at all.

What can we say? Klinghoffer’s keen mind has found the soft under-belly of Darwin’s theory. The only thing that can save us now is for the rich folks of Sweden to … well, start doing their evolutionary duty. If they don’t, Darwin is doomed!

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

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