Category Archives: Evolution

The Discoveroids and Their Magic Filter

There is no escaping the fact that William Dembski’s Design Inference, commonly called his Design Filter, is more useful than even Occam’s razor. It’s the means by which the Discoveroids use their “theory” of intelligent design to detect the existence of a transcendent designer of the universe. Our all-time favorite example of its application is Mt. Rushmore Is Designed, Therefore ….

The latest post at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog — Is That a Rock Pile or a Monument? — makes this abundantly clear. This is what they say, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

A massive pile of stones in a roughly crescent shape sits on a hillside in Galilee, Israel, about 8 miles northwest of the Sea of Galilee.

This article from LiveScience describes what they’re talking about: Massive 5,000-Year-Old Stone Monument Revealed in Israel. One excerpt should be enough to encourage you to read it, and then we’ll get back to the Discoveroids:

A lunar-crescent-shaped stone monument that dates back around 5,000 years has been identified in Israel. Located about 8 miles (13 kilometers) northwest of the Sea of Galilee, the structure is massive — its volume is about 14,000 cubic meters (almost 500,000 cubic feet) and it has a length of about 150 meters (492 feet), making it longer than an American football field. Pottery excavated at the structure indicates the monument dates to between 3050 B.C. and 2650 B.C., meaning it is likely older than the pyramids of Egypt. It was also built before much of Stonehenge was constructed.

Here’s what the Discoveroids say about the crescent monument:

It just looks like a disorganized rock pile. It’s out there all by itself. There was no ancient city near it (the nearest one was Bet Yerah (“house of the moon god”) about 18 miles south, a day’s walk. It’s too far to have been a city wall. And it would have taken a huge amount of work to build … .

That’s discussed in the LiveScience article, which quotes Ido Wachtel, a doctoral student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who discovered the site’s significance. Wachtel examined the site, the Discoveroids didn’t. So what can they tell us about it? Let’s read on:

We can apply William Dembski’s “Design Filter” to this case. Did it form by chance? There are lots of rock piles on mountainsides all over the world, so finding this one does not seem that out of the ordinary. Did it form by natural law? We would have to know if these stones are native to that area: are there other piles of the same stones nearby, or does it appear certain that these stones had to be transported to their current location? Could the stones have rolled into position from higher up? Did the shape of the hill determine how they would naturally form a crescent?

Dembski’s filter covers all of those steps? Wow! The Discoveroids continue:

We don’t know enough about this pile of rocks to question Wachtel’s conclusion that it is more than a natural phenomenon — that it was intelligently designed for a purpose. It doesn’t appear he can state definitively who made it, or why, but that’s OK: intelligent design is not asking about the identity of the designer. ID just wants to distinguish between natural causes and intelligent causes.

Wachtel concluded that it was intelligently designed! They quote the LiveScience article:

“The proposed interpretation for the site is that it constituted a prominent landmark in its natural landscape, serving to mark possession and to assert authority and rights over natural resources by a local rural or pastoral population,” Wachtel wrote in the summary of a presentation given recently at the International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East.

The structure’s crescent shape stood out in the landscape, Wachtel told Live Science in an email. The shape may have had symbolic importance, as the lunar crescent is a symbol of an ancient Mesopotamian moon god named Sin, Wachtel said.

Here’s what the Discoveroids say — and remember, they’ve got Dembski’s filter:

That’s getting speculative. He doesn’t even know who the designers were, let alone their religion or their purpose for it. How could a crescent-shaped pile of rocks on a hill many miles away from the nearest population center do anything to assert authority or property rights?

Then they mention another recently-discovered monument in Israel, to which they previously applied Dembski’s filter. We discussed that here: Rock Mounds Are Designed, Therefore …. In that post we said:

Yes, if this mound can be determined by archaeologists to be the product of human activity, then … then the Discoveroids know how to determine if your pancreas is the product of the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — and they also have the intellectual tools to determine if the whole universe was designed!

Now they’re going to do it again to the crescent monument. Here it comes:

That one looks even less like a designed structure. It’s only an irregularly-shaped pile of “unhewn basalt cobbles and boulders” on a slope. Would the people of ancient Bet Yerah have gone to even more trouble to build that one? Neither structure looks like it definitively passes the Design Filter. Stonehenge, by contrast, does pass. No natural law would carve stones that large and stand them up in a circle so that they align with the sunset at solstice.

That filter is an amazing tool! It reveals to the Discoveroids that Stonehenge was designed, and that Wachtel is a fool. This is how the article ends:

So here we see intelligent-design science at work in archaeology. One should be careful before making a design inference. You should realize that the “identity of the designer” is a separate question that requires other evidence. But the ability to distinguish between natural causes and intelligent causes can motivate research, yield major discoveries, and stimulate investigation of follow-up questions.

Verily, the world is indebted to the Discoveroids and their cutting-edge science. So why doesn’t anyone pay attention to them?

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Creationist Wisdom #475: Hook, Line, & Sinker

Have you ever looked at the geyser of feculence that spews out of creationist filth factories and then wondered if there really were people mindless enough to accept their ravings as truth? Well, wonder no more. We’ve got one for you.

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Daily Herald of Columbia, Tennessee, which proudly declares itself the “Mule capital of the world,” where Mule Day is an annual celebration. The letter is titled Reader connects Hitler, Sanger and abortion.

Today’s writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, so we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. His first name is Ron. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

Let’s start with a little history. In the 1930’s Adolph Hitler in Europe and Margaret Sanger in America headed up social revolutions. Hitler and Sanger were students of Charles Darwin and his teaching of evolution.

We know the contemporary source of those lies about Darwin’s influence, and we’ve debunked them many times. If you’re new here, see Hitler and Darwin, and then Racism, Eugenics, and Darwin.

After that spectacularly crazed beginning, Ron says:

Darwin’s book, “The Origin of Species,” had a subtitle that appealed to Hitler and Sanger, “Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.” Hitler and Sanger followed the teaching of eugenics.

Flaming moron! Let’s keep reading:

Eugenics teaches that life is built on survival of the fittest, including that of humans.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s not what eugenics is. Amazingly, then Ron gets it right:

Eugenics is a social philosophy advocating the improvement of human genetic traits through reproductive practices, thus encouraging positive traits and preventing less desirable traits

Such compulsory practices are totally alien to Darwin’s writing, but that’s pretty much how the Spartans saw it. Ron continues:

The Nazis used eugenics to justify ridding Europe of undesirable races like the Gypsies, Slavs, and most memorable, the Jews.

No, moron! Eugenics was what they used to sterilize idiots like you. Nazi racial theories came from crackpots such as the one we wrote about here: Hey, Klinghoffer: How About Hitler & Gobineau?, and also from the writings of various holy men, like On the Jews and Their Lies, by Martin Luther.

The rest of Ron’s letter is about Sanger, abortion, and Planned Parenthood. We don’t care about that stuff, so this is where we’ll leave him — neck deep in his own drool.

Hey — mindless propaganda works! It’s tragic, but we need to be aware of it.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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ICR: Ten Evidences for Creation

After you read what we found at the website of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the granddaddy of all creationist outfits, the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom — you’ll be ashamed that you ever even considered the theory of evolution. Their article is Ten Evidences for Creation.

ICR doesn’t mention it, but ol’ Hambo’s website previously posted Six Evidences of a Young Earth. Phooey on them — ICR has ten!

Those titles remind us of this at TalkOrigins: 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution, but ICR needs only ten evidences to make their case. All their article does is list their “evidences,” and for each they provide a link to an ICR article on that subject. We’ll ignore their links, but where we can easily do so, we’ll provide a link to some counter-evidence. Here we go:

Number One: Blue stars burn so fast that they can’t be millions of years old or they would be gone.

Aaaargh!! Yes, the hot blue stars don’t last long, but in many galaxies, including our own, new ones are forming all the time.

Number Two: Genetically, humans and chimps are only 70% similar.

Aaaargh!! Here’s the rebuttal in the TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims. Besides, we were made in God’s image, so why is there any similarity between us and anything else?

Number Three: DNA is a language. It had to be written by a mind.

Aaaargh!! That’s unworthy of rebuttal.

Number Four: The fossil record doesn’t show evolutionary progress, but rather the order of burial during the Flood.

Aaaargh!! Also unworthy of rebuttal.

Number Five: Noah’s Flood explains the Ice Age, while other scientific models cannot.

Aaaargh!! Also unworthy.

Number Six: These parts of the cell (graphic shows DNA, proteins, and RNA) are interdependent and needed to be created all at once.

Aaaargh!! Same response.

Number Seven: The laws of physics and chemistry do not allow life to come from non-life.

Aaaargh!! Ditto.

Number Eight: At its current rate of decay, earth’s magnetic field could be no older than 50,000 years.

Aaaargh!! Here’s the rebuttal in the TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims.

Number Nine: The amount of mutations in human M-DNA is consistent with the creation timeline.

Aaaargh!! According to creationists, everything is consistent with the creation timeline.

Number Ten: Original tissues and carbon-14 can’t last millions of years, yet they are found in dinosaur fossils.

Aaaargh!! We’ve discussed that one before — see Dinosaur Fossils Found with Hot Red Meat?

Okay, that’s all there was to it. You’ve seen their best case. Impressed?

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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The Great Debate Even Before Creationism

In the absence of news about The Controversy between evolution and creationism, we’ll zoom out a couple of clicks and look at an astronomy item we found at PhysOrg — The Great Debate over whether the universe is small or large.

It’s a fascinating look at some science history, and it demonstrates how science works when there’s a controversy between competing theories. We’ve added some bold font to the following excerpts:

The visible universe is vast. It is 93 billion light years across, and contains more than 100 billion galaxies. The average galaxy contains about 100 billion stars, and untold numbers of planets. Yet a century ago there was serious doubt among many astronomers that the universe was much more than 100,000 light years across. Arguments about whether the universe was small or large became known as the Great Debate.

A lot of controversies have been referred to by the opposing sides as the “Great Debate.” We have no doubt that the showdown between Bill Nye and ol’ Hambo is being called that. But the dispute about the size of the universe was worthy of the name. We’re told:

It is often known as the Shapley-Curtis debate, so named after Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, and a public debate they had in 1920.

Wikipedia has a brief article about it — see Great Debate. Back to PhysOrg:

The debate centered on the distance to certain nebulae. At the time, “nebula” referred to anything (excluding comets) that appeared “fuzzy” rather than distinct like a star or planet. So things like the Orion nebula (a stellar nursery), the Crab nebula (a supernova remnant) were considered nebulae just as they are today, but what we now call galaxies were also known as nebulae. The Andromeda galaxy, for example, was known as the Great Andromeda Nebula.

Curtis argued that Andromeda and other spiral nebulae were in fact “island universes”, similar in size to our own Milky Way “universe”. This would mean that not only were these nebulae 100,000 light years across or more, they must be millions of light years away.

This was in 1920. Did Curtis have any evidence? Let’s read on:

He based this argument on the fact that more novae were observed in Andromeda alone than were observed in the entire Milky Way. Why would that be the case if Andromeda were small and close. He also noted that some spiral nebulae had rather large redshifts, meaning that they were moving much faster than other objects in the universe.

Obviously a crazy man. Here’s the other side of the Great Debate:

Shapley argued that what we now call the Milky Way galaxy was the bulk of the universe. Spiral galaxies such as Andromeda must be relatively close and small. He based this view on several points. In 1917 Shapley and others observed a nova in the Andromeda nebula. For a brief time the nova outshined the central region of Andromeda. If Andromeda were a million light years away, as Curtis contended, then this nova (we now know it was a supernova) would need to be far brighter than any known mechanism could produce.

Shapley had other evidence too, which the article mentions. We notice, however, that no one was arguing for a bible based view of things. So how did the debate work out? PhysOrg informs us:

After the debate the general opinion was that Shapley had won. His own observations of the shape of the Milky Way and the 1917 supernova, and [other evidence we skipped] gave the small universe model solid footing. Besides, the idea that objects could be millions of light years away seemed patently absurd.

So there you are. The Milky Way, our galaxy, is the whole universe. Oh wait — there’s more:

In 1912 Henrietta Leavitt discovered that Cepheid variable stars vary at a rate proportional to their brightness. … In 1925 Edwin Hubble used Leavitt’s period-luminosity relation to precisely determine the distance to the Andromeda galaxy. He demonstrated conclusively that Andromeda was about 2 million light years away.

Aha! Curtis was right after all. You can read about the significance of Hubble’s work in Wikipedia — Hubble’s law. Here’s the end of the PhysOrg article:

Thus we came to know that our Milky Way is an island galaxy in a much larger universe.

Curtis had the unpopular idea. Prevailing opinion and most of the evidence seemed to be against him. His model of a gigantic universe was regarded as absurd. Yet his theory prevailed. Surely there’s a lesson the creationists can learn from this.

Well … no, there isn’t. But that shouldn’t stop them from using Curtis as an example of how a fringe idea can become mainstream. They’ll never explain how the big universe became mainstream, but don’t be surprised if they adopt Curtis as an encouraging example of an underdog who eventually achieved success over a dogmatic consensus.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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