Category Archives: Evolution

Discovery Institute: Metaphor Mining

The Discoveroids, and probably several other creationist sects, like to engage in what we shall call “metaphor mining.” They scour scientific papers and science-oriented articles for any word, expression, or metaphor that can be twisted and perverted to their purposes. We’ve written about this sleazy tactic before — see Discovery Institute: “We Win — He Said ‘Design’!”

We’ve all seen numerous examples. If anyone writes that he “believes” in evolution they start yelling: “See? He believes it — it’s faith. It’s a religion!” They seize upon anything else they can find. If a cellular feature is referred to as a “mechanism,” they say “only intelligence builds machines.” If you call it a “structure,” they say “only a builder creates structures,” and so on. You can’t escape their linguistic gyrations. If a paper even uses the subjunctive mode they start yelling that the scientist is guessing. We’ve seen creationists actually count the number of times words like “seems” and “may” appear in a paper.

No matter how careful you are to guard against that sort of thing, they’ll do it to whatever new expressions you use. We once suggested that every paper should have a statement in it somewhere that says something like:

DECLARATION OF INTENT: The authors do not support any version of creationism or intelligent design. No word or phrase used herein supports that pseudoscience; and anyone who quotes anything in this paper to claim otherwise is lying.

As you’ve no doubt guessed, the Discoveroids are doing it again. The latest post at their creationist blog is Biologists Are Getting to Be Less Reticent About Using the Phrase “Design Principles”. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

We’re seeing more instances of biologists (especially cell biologists) writing about “design principles” in their papers. Phrases like that are hard to square with blind evolutionary mechanisms. Yes, they still believe that natural selection finds ways to optimize things, but that gets harder to justify the more the focus is on design. Here’s a recent example …

It doesn’t matter what paper they’re referring to, so we won’t bother linking to it. Instead we’ll give you a few of their excerpts from that paper, in which the bold font was added by the Discoveroids:

We present a theory for the optimal design of cellular sensing systems that maximize sensing precision given these resources. It reveals a new design principle, namely that of optimal resource allocation.

After a few more such quotes (which we haven’t checked for accuracy) the Discoveroids say — this time with our bold font:

Let’s count the mentions of “design” and see if they explain how “selective pressure” gets the signal to the top of Mt. Improbable, where “optimal resource allocation” prevails. The word “design” appears 24 times in the paper. “Selection” appears twice, in the phrase “selective pressure” (one of them is just a repetition from the Abstract). Any form of the word “evolution” appears just once: [we’ll omit that quote].

This is great creation science! Let’s read on:

We see, therefore, that “design” references outnumber evolutionary references eight to one. We also find “machine” or “machinery” four times, “coding” or “encoding” 15 times, “information” (in terms of information to be processed) five times, “accurate” (in terms of sensing accuracy) 11 times, “precision” 29 times, “efficient” four times, and “optimal” or “optimum” 28 times. Taken together, these design words outnumber evolution words 40 to 1.

After some more metaphor mining from the same paper, the Discoveroids give us this amazing argument:

Will a salmon evolve precision navigation systems because it “should” swim upstream to spawn? Of course not. The fish doesn’t care. The river doesn’t care. Nothing is cheering the salmon on to fight its way miles up against the current. It would just as soon float downstream and go extinct.

Very profound. We’ll skip to the end, where the Discoveroids make a disparaging remark about the paper’s authors:

They said their pledge of allegiance to Darwin, now leave them alone.

There’s no author’s name assigned to that Discoveroid essay. From our extensive experience, we’d say it was written by Casey, but that doesn’t matter. This kind of thing is typical of all creationists. When they lack evidence for their “theory” (which is always the case), they’ll resort to anything else they can contrive. It looks like desperation to us.

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

Creationist Wisdom #495: True Science

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Daily Journal of Park Hills, Missouri. The letter is titled Speaking of evolution. There’s a comments section at the end, with no comments so far.

Today’s writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, so we won’t use her full name. Her first name is Jennie. Excerpts from her letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

Speaking of evolution, it has been said that “not incorporating scientific discovery into Christian theology turns people from God,” suggesting Christians refuse to accept “scientific discoveries” because they feel their power and pride would be threatened and diminished by these discoveries.

Power and pride are undoubtedly motives for some creationists. But Jennie’s thoughts are pure, and she has reasons of her own. She says:

Hogwash. I don’t think power is one of my gifts, but if God chooses to endow me with power, I don’t think a man fashioned around a pig’s tooth is going to diminish it.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s a reference to Nebraska Man, a misidentified fossil that was swiftly reclassified. Jennie is still arguing about that one. But she’s right about one thing — lust for power isn’t her problem. As for pride, let’s read on:

I will agree though my pride would certainly be hurt if you called my grandma a gorilla. In fact, take my word now that I wouldn’t take it kindly. Call your own grandma what you want to, but don’t insult mine please.

There is a touch of pride here, but it’s understandable. Jennie ain’t no kin to no monkey! She continues:

It is your privilege to make your own choices, as far as you are able to do so. I might mention that true science reflects and proves the word of God to be true. If you think otherwise, I can understand why you choose not to follow God, when He can’t even get it right about how people came to be and what we’re here for.

Yes, true science proves the bible is true. And what is the test that enables you to know whether science is true science? [*Curmudgeon pauses to stress the importance of this point*] It agrees with the bible! Here’s more:

But, wait a minute, I’ve got a question: Do people who came by way of primordial soup and primates even have a soul? If so, how did that happen to evolve? When did this come to be? Do you expect to see furry souls swinging on grape vines in Heaven?

Jennie has spotted evolution’s biggest problem — the evolution of the soul. Moving along:

Yes, you can choose which side you’re on, but you can’t have it both ways. Richard Dawkins himself said he didn’t see how anybody could believe in God if they believed in evolution. Richard is one of the highest “authorities” on shoring up the shaking sand of evolution; alive and well even as we speak, but his day will come, as will ours.

Dawkins’ day will come — and he’ll find himself in the Lake of Fire. Jennie knows! Another excerpt:

My best advice to anyone is to go with God, the one who was there at the beginning, is with us now, and will be The One who will be with us forever and ever.

Hey, that’s great advice! And here’s how the letter ends:

My second best advice would be go to the zoo as often as you can and see if you can spot any evolution going on there, and please let me know if you do.

Wow — she’s right! There’s no evolution at the zoo. What a great letter!

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

Ken Ham: Abortion, Homosexuality, & Evolution

Once again, we harken to the wisdom of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, famed for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG) and for the mind-boggling Creation Museum.

Ol’ Hambo’s newest article is titled More Than Half of Americans Believe the Bible Is Inaccurate. That sounds like good news to us, but ol’ Hambo is aghast. Here’s what he says, with some bold font added by us for emphasis, and Hambo’s links omitted:

When Christians see alarming numbers of Americans openly — even enthusiastically — embracing completely anti-biblical teachings such as abortion, homosexual behavior, and evolution, they wonder how our culture (and the church) has gotten so far from its biblical foundation.

Isn’t that sweet? Hambo is horrified that people embrace abortion, homosexual behavior, and evolution. Well, your Curmudgeon sees how the game is played, so now it’s our turn. We’re alarmed to see people embracing anti-Enlightenment teachings like science-denial and creationism — along with their inevitable consequences such as theocracy, despotism, incest, bestiality, pedophilia, necrophilia, coprophilia, sadism, and cannibalism. That’s what happens when our culture strays from its Enlightenment foundation.

Wasn’t that fun? Let’s see what else Hambo has for us. He talks about a recent survey “to take the temperature of America’s theological health,” and he says:

According to the survey, the majority of Americans (53%) don’t believe that heaven and hell are real places and almost half think that there are many different ways to heaven. Also, less than half of the participants believe that God authored the Bible and over half (57%) don’t think the Bible is always accurate. Consequently, only half of Americans (49%) think the Bible has authority in our lives.

Hambo is horrified and he declares:

Sadly, our once-Christian nation has drifted far from its roots. Few people actually understand solid, biblical theology and biblical illiteracy is rampant throughout our country.

That’s not good for ticket sales at the Creation Museum. Let’s read on:

How people view the Bible has a direct effect on how they behave, what they believe, and what kind of theology they hold to. If the Bible is full of errors and isn’t 100% true, then why do we have to obey its doctrine? Why should we start our thinking in all areas with God’s Word?

Yeah. And why would anyone buy a lifetime pass to Hambo’s planned replica of Noah’s Ark? He continues:

That’s why it’s so important that we teach this next generation to stand on the authority of the Word of God in its entirety — from beginning to end! We have found that a major reason for our young people leaving is because many in the church have neglected God’s Word in Genesis. … After all, if you cannot trust God’s Word in Genesis, then why trust what it says throughout the rest of Scripture?

Good question! Here’s more:

Genesis is foundational to the rest of Scripture. Every major doctrine of Scripture finds its basis in the history of Genesis. Why is marriage for one man and one woman? Why do we wear clothes? Why is salvation only able to come through Jesus? All of these, and many more, are based out of Genesis 1–11. The history of Genesis is foundational to the rest of the Bible. If you compromise in Genesis, then it opens the door for more compromise throughout Scripture.

[*Curmudgeon rips off his clothes*] One more excerpt:

Observational science has confirmed the Bible’s history over and over again. We can trust the Bible, from the very first verse, and that’s why we can trust the morality, theology, and ultimately, the gospel message found in the Bible.

We have only one question: If Hambo’s view of things is so true, and if science confirms it, why don’t the public opinion polls show a growing trend in his favor, rather than the other way around?

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: Still Fighting Junk DNA

We were recently discussing the importance of junk DNA to the Discovery Institute. They insist that our genome is perfectly designed, without flaws, and every little scrap of it is designed to be functional.

The first time we wrote about this was back in 2008: Discovery Institute: Astounding Stupidity. We discussed a bold declaration by Casey Luskin — our favorite creationist — who said:

[I]ntelligent agents design objects for a purpose, and therefore intelligent design predicts that biological structures will have function.

But if it’s true, as research continues to demonstrate, that most of our genome serves no purpose (see this from a few months ago: Hey Casey! Our Genome Is Mostly Junk) then what does that say about the craftsmanship — or existence — of the Discoveroids’ intelligent designer? They claim that the whole universe was created and fine-tuned just for us; but if our genome is mostly a pile of junk that was accumulated as a result of evolution, then their transcendent designer — blessed be he! — is revealed to be a bungling incompetent, if he exists at all.

To the rational mind, the Discoveroids’ “theory” is decisively disproved by junk DNA. This is not to say that junk DNA proves evolution — that depends on all of the accumulated evidence — but junk DNA’s existence makes the very concept of an intelligent designer a non-starter. So the Discoveroids keep trying to stay alive by battling against junk DNA. It’s a losing battle — indeed, it’s one they’ve already lost — but it fun to watch them keep trying.

Their latest effort, just posted at their creationist blog, is Protracted Unrest Between ENCODE Researchers and Junk-DNA Advocates Goes On. BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Now we’re “junk-DNA advocates.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

[T]he battle between ENCODE researchers and junk-DNA holdouts goes on. Our ongoing coverage of the hostilities left off with the latter sending over their latest salvo. Now, ENCODE is back. Confident that genomes are not mostly junk, they have set their latest contender in the ring: a mouse.

You know about ENCODE, described by Wikipedia as a project that “aims to identify all functional elements in the human genome.” There is great controversy over what is meant by “functional.” New research challenges the ENCODE results — see How much of your DNA is functional?

Anyway, what’s this “mouse” business the Discoveroids are babbling about? The ENCODE project has been sequencing the DNA of mice, and they have four papers in Nature. The links are in the Discoveroid post. The ENCODE people are arguing that even if huge chunks of DNA aren’t conserved from one species to another (other researchers use conservation as an indicator of meaningful function), they’re not necessarily junk. The Discoveroids offer this quote, which we haven’t verified:

Evolutionary conservation of primary sequence is typically considered synonymous with conserved function, but this finding suggests that this concept should be reinterpreted, because insertions of retrotransposon elements in new genomic regions are not conserved between species.

This is rather arcane. The Discoveroids, eager for anything that argues against junk, say:

Undoubtedly these findings will lead to a great deal of excited discussion about what they mean for evolution or for intelligent design, but the same basic principle applies to Mouse ENCODE that applied to Human ENCODE: much of what Darwinian evolutionists had dismissed as junk appears functional.

They’ll grasp at anything that might preserve the reputation of their designer. This is how they end the post:

As the junk-DNA advocates try to explain away the new findings, we look forward to evaluating this flood of new data from a design perspective.

No doubt the Discoveroids’ evaluation will be of incredible significance. Meanwhile, as we’ve said before, even if the genome were a flawlessly lean, mean, coding machine — which it obviously isn’t — it still wouldn’t be evidence of intelligent design. It would merely be another instance of William Paley’s 1802 watchmaker analogy.

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