Creationist Wisdom #297: Creationist Engineer

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Anderson Independent-Mail of Anderson, South Carolina. It’s titled Evolution at odds with Bible, science. 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. Okay, here we go:

As a Bible-believing Christian and a licensed professional engineer with almost 47 years in private practice, my qualifications are similar to the most recent respondent.

We have no idea what earlier letter he’s referring to, but we note that as an engineer, today’s letter-writer is yet another example of the Salem Hypothesis, according to which engineering types — and that often includes computer scientists — have a tendency toward the creationist viewpoint. On with the letter:

I, like he, have both feet in this discussion. I state without apology, however, that both feet are on the same side of the discussion. Why do I take such a seemingly outrageous stance? There are two reasons:

The earlier letter apparently attempted to take a conciliatory approach to both religion and science. But our man today will not compromise! Here’s his first reason:

1. Evolutionary theology is at odds with every definitive Bible doctrine. Biblical Christianity is obviously based on the clear teachings of the Bible. Hebrew grammar and syntax do not permit the insertion of geologic time into the first chapter of Genesis. Neither does it permit human death before Adam’s sin. These are just two of the many incongruities.

Ah, he’s a young-Earther. His heart is pure. Here’s the second reason:

2. Evolutionary theology is at odds with every demonstrable law or principle of science. Science is based on observable and repeatable phenomena. No Darwinian or punctuationalist event has ever been observed. According to the laws of science, they cannot occur.

Right! No one has ever re-created the Earth’s biosphere in a lab. However, there are numerous Observed Instances of Speciation. We continue:

The so-called “horse series” has been debunked by the discovery of a modern horse fossil dated, by evolutionists, many thousands of years older than its descendants.

We’re not sure what fossil he’s talking about, but “many thousands of years” isn’t even an eye-blink on the evolutionary scale. Besides, what about all the other evolutionary series for which there is abundant evidence? But regarding horses (or anything else), it’s not at all remarkable for an ancestral species to continue to survive at the same time that some new branch of the family also exists. It sounds like the letter-writer is asking “Why are there still monkeys?” For more information, TalkOrigins has a good article on Horse Evolution. On with the letter:

Is Creationism divisive? Yes. Jesus was divisive (Matthew 10:34). Those who “accept Jesus” but reject His plain teachings have compromised, and are just “playing church” (Matthew 15:9).

Divisiveness is good! Okay. And now we come to the end:

Perhaps I will be able to address human endogenous retroviruses in my next letter. I would be happy to demonstrate from the Bible and science.

We’ll be looking forward to that next letter. But it probably won’t be as good as this one.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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38 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #297: Creationist Engineer

  1. His heart is pure.

    Unless he is a geocentrist, I wouldn’t say that. (I am open-minded, and will not insist that the pure of heart be flat-earthers.)

  2. Charles Deetz ;)

    One of the biggest barriers to literal Genesis as history, is that unmeasured period before sin, when nothing died, meat wasn’t eaten, and one has to wonder about sex. Here, the writer actually uses it as support for the creationist view, it seems.

  3. “The so-called “horse series” has been debunked by the discovery of a modern horse fossil dated, by evolutionists, many thousands of years older than its descendants.”

    This might be from the statements of some creationist I read a while ago, who that thought that finding Hyracotherium fossils on the surface (rather than 2 miles underground, or whatever) meant that they were recent, and thus the same age as the modern horse purported to be 50 million years younger. (Talk origins might covert this.)

  4. Any time the word “compromised” comes into play, the HamBone alert goes off – he uses compromised Christians so often he ought to trademark the phrase.

  5. Charley Horse

    This letter was posted 2 days before the creationist engineer
    posted his:
    Evidence for evolution includes anatomical homologies, shared DNA code, endogenous retroviral insertions, pseudogenes, phylogenetic convergence, chromosome fusion, vestigial structures, fossils, stratigraphic superimposition and radiometric dating.

    There is not enough space in this forum to discuss these in detail. Research on the reader’s part is necessary.

    Natural selection operates on three prerequisites: variation, heredity, and reproduction at a rate that exceeds replacement. Thus individuals that survive and reproduce more often than others pass on advantageous traits that accumulate in a population.

    The human genome has more than 3 billion base pairs of DNA. Within the genome are regulatory sequences that control when and where genes are expressed by acting like on/off switches. Because direct alteration to a gene can have dramatic effects (death or sterility), altering the way a gene is turned on or off is safer and biologically favored when a new trait is evolving.

    There are 510 segments that are present in chimpanzees but missing from humans. Only one of those segments actually disrupts a gene. The remaining 509 are on/off switches. For example, humans have not lost the gene for having hair-covered bodies, but evolution simply turned the gene off. That does not result in a loss of genetic information.

    Finally, the fossil record actually has many examples of transition species.

    The evolution of a horse from a small forest dwelling animal to the large modern-day plains animal and the evolution of a whale from a four-legged land animal to a marine mammal are well documented.

    …many thousands of years older than its descendants….hmmmm
    …..shouldn’t a fossil of any critter be “many thousands of years”
    older than its descendants? Weird comment.

  6. “Punctuationalist”? Who would that be? An admirer of Victor Borge?

    I was also going to comment on the horse that was older than its descendants (of course it is!), but I’ll just ditto CH. Just more evidence that this guy doesn’t really know what he’s talking about. Why he feels that being a “Bible-believing Christian and a licensed professional engineer with almost 47 years in private practice” should make him any more qualified to comment on evolution than the average Joe is beyond me. Of course, if he is well-read in the subject (in science-based literature, not creationist tracts), being a Christian and an engineer wouldn’t automatically disqualify him, either. But it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

    Off-topic, but as I’m writing this I’m being entertained by a squirrel trying to get sunflower seeds from a squirrel-proof bird feeder. It apparently is a very “intelligently-designed” feeder, because in the 15+ years we’ve had it, no squirrel has been able to figure it out.

  7. For those too young to know of Victor Borge:

    Enjoy! You too will be a punctuationalist.

  8. Pete Moulton

    “Why he feels that being a ‘Bible-believing Christian and a licensed professional engineer with almost 47 years in private practice’ should make him any more qualified to comment on evolution than the average Joe is beyond me.” Nicely phrased, RSG.

    I too wonder about the hubris of people with no discernible biology background who nevertheless think they know more about evolutionary theory than the thousands of biologists who’ve studied it their whole careers.

    On the other hand, I just can’t wait for this clown’s next letter, in which he promises to enlighten us about ERVs. That might be a fun one to forward to Abbie Smith.

  9. Retiredsciguy,
    I’m old enough to remember Victor Borge, but thanks for bringing him back.
    Retiredengrguy

  10. Sensuous Curmudgeon,
    Re your “engineering types — and that often includes computer scientists — have a tendency toward the creationist viewpoint,” you suffer from the same presupposition as Denis Lamoureux, namely, just because Henry Morris was an engineer, all engineers are suspected of being creationists. That’s not fair to engineers. Do you make the same assumption for any other occupations?
    Paul Bruggink, B.S. in Chemical Engineering, University of Illinois, a long time ago

  11. Paul Bruggink asks: “Do you make the same assumption for any other occupations?”

    It’s not my assumption. Your gripe is with Bruce Salem. It’s his hypothesis, not mine. I do, however, see evidence on the internet that there are a lot of creationist dentists.

  12. If you’re referring to Denis Lamoureux, he is an evolutionary creationist dentist. And the Wikipedia article on the Salem Hypothesis, which YOU choose to quote, has a grand total of nine examples. I suspect that I could find more than nine scientists who are YEC.

  13. Heck, I started out in Freshman Engineering at Purdue, but my writing skills were too good for them to allow my to continue in engineering. (Sorry, Gary, but I just had to put that in there.) So my guidance counselor suggested Technical Writing, concentrating in the biological sciences.

    I don’t know how Gary got through. His writing skills are excellent, and yet he earned both a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering, and he certainly knows what he’s talking about concerning evolution.

    Talking about creationist dentists, “The Revisionists” on PBS’s “Independent Lens” last night certainly showed the world just who Don McLeroy is.

  14. Paul B – I would recommend not getting your shorts too twisted over this issue. The data are anecdotal and thus not too much more than a developing hypothesis can be made. But, I also believe that many of us have encountered many more young earth creationist types from the non-natural science folks, from engineers to dentists to physicians. Notice the only claim was a “tendency toward” and I would have to agree with that claim. Also Dennis L is not a YEC, but a BioLogos type of TE/EC and thus accepts evolution just as nearly all natural scientists accept evolution.

  15. Charley Horse

    Couldn’t it just be that creationists think that their
    authority is greater when they wear their
    degrees on their sleeves? Isn’t it fair to say that is
    the reason the letter writer thought it relevant to
    mention his profession?

  16. Douglas E – I’m just trying to give the Curmudgeon a hard time, just like I once tried to give Denis Lamoureux a hard time over the same issue.

    At the bottom of page 33 in his book “Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution,” Denis Lamoureux states “Yet on the other hand, these anti-evolutionists support and even practice modern engineering and medical sciences . . . ”

    And in Douglas Hayworth’s interview with Denis L of June 2, 2009
    for his blog, Denis L stated: “However, those who have not seen the evolutionary evidence (e.g., engineers, philosophers, etc.) . . .”

    Denis L responded by suggesting that education today is too fragmented, and signed his email: “Denis (former mouth engineer)”

  17. Paul I don’t think you are entirly reading salems law right. It is not saying that Engineers are pre-disposed to being YEC.

    It is saying that YEC who pull out there degree are more likely to be engineers as opposed to other professions. This is true in my experience as well.

    For instance no-one would stand up and hold their English or any arts degrees as proof of creationism. It wouldn’t mean anything in this topic.
    Those with a medical or science degree with the exception of dentists just know better.

    Leaving one of the few professions left…. Engineering computer or otherwise.

    Long story short it’s not that engineers are predisposed to creationism. It’s that creationist engineers are one of the few professions who could/would hold up their professional experience as proof of anything on this topic. This would occur often enough because engineering is such a large and diverse field.

  18. Spector567 – It seems to me that creationist scientists also “hold up their professional experience as proof of anything on this topic.” In fact, I would be willing to bet that there are more creationist scientists than creationist engineers who do that,.

  19. @ Paul B – good to know! Thanks

  20. Paul are you really arguing over this? This is silly.
    Do you really want me to point out that people who have a distain for science typically don’t make science their profession and don’t’ make it very far? There are some famous ones of course but they are famous because they are the exception.

    Or the fact that we are NOT talking about the famous ones but rather the average internet commenter.

    Then there is also the fact that someone else made up salem’s Hypothis (not a law) and this blogger just linked a random wiki. (probally the first search result)

    I work in engineering as well. My ego is not hurt by this and i’m terribly confused why yours is.

  21. @Spector567 – As I already stated in my response to Douglas E, I was just trying to give the Curmudgeon (and Denis Lamoureux) a hard time (in fun).

  22. @RSG: Just an hour ago I introduce a co-worker to Victor Borge by showing them that same video. Great minds think alike.

    @Paul: Being an engineer (obviously does not make you a Creationist any more then it makes you drive trains. I believe the Salem Hypotheses came about from analysis of those who have signed the Dissent From Darwin list: There are a higher number of engineering professionals (and fewer Biologist) on that list than you might expect if the list were a representative sample of the population.

    If it’s is any comfort, we have our own Gary List (people named Gary that support Evolution, rather like the Steve List), and at least half of them engineers.

  23. @The Curmudgeon – Thanks for the link. I enjoyed the article, but I couldn’t help but notice that there no mention of Dr. Denis Lamoureux, who not only served served as a dentist in the Canadian Armed Forces, and, in addition to a PhD in theology, also earned a PhD in biology, specializing in dental development and evolution, and is the author of a ground-breaking book on evolution and Christianity entitled “Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution,” and the ‘Readers’ Digest’ version entitled “I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution.” Hey, he should have at least gotten some credit for being the exception that proves the rule of the Curmudgeon’s Conjecture of Dental Destiny. :-)

    @Tomato Addict – Thanks for the back story on the Salem Hypothesis and your support of us beat-up engineers.

  24. Wow! So many things requiring a response. In no particular order:
    - @Everyone: Actually, we engineers appear to be over-represented in the ranks of terrorists. To me, it’s not a stretch to take the same line of logic that would lead someone to decide, “Hey, blowing up people is what I want to do!”, to deciding, “I ain’t from no monkey!” There’s something to it.
    - @Spector567: “Those with a medical or science degree with the exception of dentists just know better.”
    Not always. There was someone on the Dissent from Darwin list, Mark Toleman, who is a microbiologist yet is also YEC. The guy is even published with peer-reviewed papers in “The Lancet”. (Not a lightweight publication in the field of science and medicine, mind you.) Do a Google search on “mark toleman phd microbiology” and see what comes up.
    - @RSG: “Heck, I started out in Freshman Engineering at Purdue, but my writing skills were too good for them to allow my to continue in engineering. (Sorry, Gary, but I just had to put that in there.) ”
    LOL! Every single one of my professors at Undue Perversity, when asked what subject engineering students should concentrate on, said “English!” I would utter that same idea time and again with each of the cooperative education students I dealt with at work. Effective communication requires someone who can both speak and write coherently. Pore gramer mekz id diphiklt tu cummunikaat.

    Now, to deal with this “creationist engineer”. I’d have to agree with everyone here that you do not come into a scientific argument stating, “Well, I’m an engineer, so therefore…” That vellum and $7 will get you a medium sized coffee at Starbuckaroos. I’m wondering if he thinks people will believe him the same way that people tend to believe that we engineers know everything about technology. Computer has been infected with malware? Call the engineer! Printer isn’t working right? Call the engineer! Something’s wrong with my TV cable? Call the engineer! Fact is, I can fix two of the three of these things simply because I’ve dealt with them so often. And what does this mean for my knowledge of biology and evolution? Nothing. I understand the basics because reading this blog (and even more importantly Panda’s Thumb), you need understand the basics in order to understand what anyone is saying.

  25. In my honest opinion, one of the underlying causes of the disconnect between engineers (and others) with evolution must be the educational framework itself. I am fortunate to have received both an engineering degree and a required well-rounded liberal arts education (Union College, New York). I am able to think critically (at least I hope so, most of the time). I was educated to understand that engineering is based on both mathematical and scientific principles. Unfortunately, I encounter many engineers who fail to recognize this and I can only fault their education. Of course, many of these same individuals have a completely static view of the world around them, completely oblivious to the transient nature of the universe at all length scales. Again, I can fault the educational system for this failure.

    Hmmm……funny how they don’t seem to have nearly as much of an issue with this in the UK and other countries.

  26. SnowLeopard said: “Again, I can fault the educational system for this failure.”
    I don’t. I fault the engineers. I’ve yet to hear of a “Biblical engineering curriculum” and, if one did exist, it would not be that big. Any engineer probably had to take a set of science-based courses. I myself had to take many of the basic science courses, including chemistry and physics. Evolution is nothing more than the application of those two areas on a large scale over lots of time on lifeforms. I have a very hard time with any engineer who would accept that chemistry and physics work fine in all areas except biology. I don’t need these morons giving us engineers a bad name. I consider engineering a good and honorable profession, and “creationist engineers” who would openly espouse stating that “Evolution is a myth; the Bible is a much better science book than anything any biologist every wrote” will get nothing from me but contempt.

  27. Fulton's Folly

    re: Douglas E

    “.. he uses “compromised Christians” so often he ought to trademark the phrase.”
    [quotations mine]

    “That’s Hot” ® Paris Hilton

  28. Fulton's Folly

    re: retiredsciguy

    “Talking about creationist dentists, “The Revisionists” on PBS’s “Independent Lens” last night certainly showed the world just who Don McLeroy is.”

    The following info is from Reddit ….

    AMA – “Ask Me Anything” – Post on Reddit.Com created by the producers of The Revisionists

    http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/17gygn/we_are_the_creators_and_main_subjects_of_the/

    NOTE: Don McLeroy is currently commenting on the Reddit thread.

    For those of you who missed The Revisionaries on TV last night (or would like to watch it again), it is streaming on the PBS website for free until February 27: http://video.pbs.org/video/2325563509

    ^^^ Click the link on the bottom left.

    NOTE: The version shown on PBS was edited down to 60 minutes from the full documnetary from, IIRC, 83 minutes. The film is now showing in select cities and will reportedly be shown in full on Netflix and DVD on the near future.

    Be sure to tune into the 83 minute version to see how the Teaxas SBOE standards eventually reflected how President Ronald Reagan put the kibosh on “Hip Hop”.

    Did I forget to mention that McLeroy is currently commenting on the afore mentioned thread on Reddit ?

  29. @FF – chuckle. Did not know that about Hilton – also, it seems that she has faded from the scene, or at least the police blotters which would be the only place it might show up in the Boulder Daily Camera :-)

  30. Sorry Paul I obviously missed the part where you said you were doing it all in good fun. Typing doesn’t convey tone very well. =)

  31. @Spector567 – Apology accepted. If Victor Borge were still around, perhaps he could have come up with a solution. :-)

    It does seem that some subsequent commenters took it more seriously. At any rate, we seriously hijacked this comment thread. :-)

  32. If you really want to get down to it, pastors are more likely than anyone else to wear their credentials on their sleeves and to stick their feet in their mouths when it comes to science.

    My dad is an aerospace engineer, and has no problem with evolution. My father in law is a pastor and thinks he has all the answers about the subject. He’s as YEC as they come.

    As a side note to anyone wanting to view it on TV, in the St. Louis area, Revisionaries will be on this coming sunday at 10:30pm local time on PBS affiliate KETC channel 9. I will probably watch online since there is no guarrantee this old man will be awake at 10:30pm on sunday.

  33. samuelvanderwaal

    It’s likely that there are more engineers who are Creationists than members of the scientific fields (biology, chemistry, geology, etc.), because individuals in the fields of the natural sciences are exposed to vast amounts of evidence for evolution by nature of their field. What I don’t think is as evident, is if the number of Creationist engineers is disproportional to the number of plumbers, policemen, or carpenters who are adhere to Creationism.

    At any rate, I submit myself as a data point in the opposite direction: B.S. EE currently pursuing M.S. EE, former YEC but who now accepts evolution. For me, it was the same analytical traits that propelled me into engineering that encouraged me to examine the evidence and change my conclusions based on the science.

  34. Jim Thomerson

    I wonder if the engineer who wrote the letter was partially responsible for the design of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, or any of various other engineering catastrophes.

    At my university, students who are not engineers, chemists, or physicists are required to take a general education biology course. So, we produce music majors who know more about biology than most of our engineers, chemists, or physicists. I suspect most engineers have not had a university level biology course.

  35. As several have commented on the most recent Don McLeroy sighting, I feel compelled to point out Dr. Jerry Coyne’s post at http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/don-mcleroy-leaves-creationist-comment-evolution-cant-explain-biochemical-complexity/ along with a number of excellent comments.

  36. Ceteris Paribus

    Question: How many engineers does it take to replace a light bulb?
    Answer: Seventeen. One to replace the bulb; eleven to write letters to their newspapers explaining that the filament, bulb, and base are demonstrations of “irreducible specified complexity; and five to produce DVDs to hand out to their co-workers, proclaiming that the right-hand threads of the bulb are proof of “fine tuning of the universe”.

  37. Gary: “I have a very hard time with any engineer who would accept that chemistry and physics work fine in all areas except biology.”

    When you think about it, you come to the realization that biology is nothing more than a chemical reaction that relies on physics to be self-perpetuating.