Category Archives: Evolution

Klinghoffer Awaits “Cosmos” Episode 6 Tonight

Tonight’s episode of Cosmos: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, is titled “Deeper, Deeper, Deeper Still.” Tyson will explore the atomic and sub-atomic structure of the universe. To the consternation of the creationists, he will also discuss life and its origins.

The Discoveroids are upset even now. At their creationist blog, David Klinghoffer, their journalistic slasher and poo flinger, has already posted As You Look Forward to Your Date with Neil Tyson, Here Is Stephen Meyer on the Cosmological Argument for a Transcendent Designer.

The designer is transcendent? The theological meaning of that word, of which Klinghoffer is surely aware, means beyond the space and time of the created universe. Are the Discoveroids finally admitting that their designer — blessed be he! — shares that ambiguous and undetectable domain with Yahweh? Klinghoffer’s post is brief, so it shouldn’t take us long to find out. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Are you planning on watching Cosmos tonight? We are, with relish. It’s actually become something of a standing joke around our offices — which historical personality with tenuous connections to science will host Neil deGrasse Tyson twist into a pretzel and offer as a scientific martyr to narrow-minded religious zealotry?

The Discoveroids think Cosmos is a comedy show! Isn’t that delightful? We can imagine them, sitting around and snickering like a bunch of monkeys — no relation of course! — as Tyson talks about science and casually dismisses supernaturalism. What a great time those fun-loving fellows must have! Then Klinghoffer says:

Meanwhile, watch Stephen Meyer in an exceptionally lucid and fascinating conversation with John Ankerberg, discussing how cosmic fine tuning puts intelligent design in biology in its proper context.

There’s a video at Klinghoffer’s post. We haven’t looked at it. Let’s read on:

ID in the latter sense may be explicable as the work of a designing intelligence in our own universe, but that’s only if you don’t consider the former evidence, which demands a transcendent cause.

We’re not sure what the “latter sense” or the “former evidence” refer to. Possibly he means that the magic designer’s activity in biology is an explicable something-or-other within the universe (although they never get around to explaining it), while the designer of the cosmos — the same designer? — is transcendent. But who knows what he means?

We hope you noticed that Klinghoffer emphasized the word “transcendent” by putting it in italics. He didn’t want us to miss it. It would appear that they’ve abandoned all hope of ever demonstrating that the designer is anything but a supernatural phenomenon. Here’s the rest of his post:

Will you hear about any of this from Dr. Tyson? No, that’s why you need us!

Ah, so that’s why we need them! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

While we’re waiting for tonight’s show, feel free to use the comments as an Intellectual Free Fire Zone. You know the rules. Those who watch the show tonight can comment on that, of course. Okay, have at it!

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

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Creationist Wisdom #416: Plausible Explanation

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Star Press of Muncie, Indiana — the home town of Ball State University. The title is ID should be included in science instruction.

We don’t like to embarrass people (unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures), so we’ll just use the letter-writer’s first name, which is Kevin. Here are a few excerpts from his letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Okay, let’s go:

Darwinian evolution has been a theory in crisis for several decades, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to people such as Eugenie Scott, spokeswoman for the National Center for Science Education. Despite much discussion of significant problems with evolutionary theory in the relevant scientific literature, Scott insists that there are “no weaknesses in the theory of evolution.” She’s either incredibly ignorant or, more likely, being dishonest.

Kevin knows how go get our attention with a strong beginning. Hang on, dear reader, this looks like a great letter. Then Kevin says:

The late Harvard paleontologist Stephen J. Gould declared in 1990 that neo-Darwinism “is effectively dead, despite its persistence as textbook orthodoxy.”

Wow! That’s an obscenely mined quote which has been making the rounds for years, previously debunked by John Pieret here at his blog. Let’s read on:

Having been indoctrinated with the false belief that science must produce only naturalistic explanations, many view ID theory as nonscience or pseudoscience simply because it postulates the existence of an Intelligent Designer.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s precisely the problem with intelligent design (ID) — it postulates the existence of an Intelligent Designer. Kevin continues:

If science detects evidence of intelligent design in nature, such as the biological information encoded in DNA, why should that evidence be deemed inadmissible in the realm of scientific inquiry?

That’s another problem with ID. Although DNA is the subject of intense scientific research, no evidence has been detected that it’s the artificial work of a designer. Here’s more:

When the Big Bang theory was first proposed, more than a few scientists expressed opposition to it, not because it was nonscientific but because it implied the existence of a Creator. It’s the same with ID theory. Scientists who are philosophically committed to materialism oppose the theory on the basis of its implications, not because it is nonscientific or lacks the support of empirical evidence.

There was some confused reaction to the Big Bang theory, initially, but the supporting evidence has resulted in the theory’s overwhelming acceptance. And whatdaya know — today it’s the creationists who oppose the Big Bang. ID can enjoy such acceptance too — as soon as its advocates produce some evidence. Until then, the designer will have to share a room with the Tooth Fairy and the Grim Reaper. Moving along:

Science cannot discover or determine how life originated, whether naturally or supernationally [sic]. The most it can do is provide a reasonable explanation based on observable phenomena.

Kevin’s statement is almost acceptable, because: (a) we certainly can’t discover how life originated supernaturally; and (b) a demonstrable natural method hasn’t yet been discovered. What’s a statement that borders on being reasonable doing in his letter? Ah, the rest of Kevin’s paragraph is what he assumes is an equally reasonable statement:

The most plausible explanation for the origin of life is intelligent design (even former atheist Antony Flew thinks so), and there is no valid reason to exclude it from science education.

Antony Flew embraced deism and expressed some support for ID when he was in his 80s, near the end of his life. But even if he were still alive, intellectual vigorous, and a full-blown Discoveroid, one philosopher’s opinion (or a thousand philosophers’ opinions) is no substitute for verifiable evidence. We’ve never understood why an inexplicable miracle is considered a “plausible” explanation — let alone “the most plausible” explanation — for anything. Another excerpt:

Separation of church and state has been cited as one reason to keep ID out of science courses, as if it were some sort of religious doctrine that teachers would be imposing on students merely by introducing it as an alternative to the creation myth favored by evolutionists.

But ID definitely is “some sort of religious doctrine.” Kevin even admits that in his next sentence:

Though admittedly compatible with biblical teaching, ID is no more a religious doctrine than the theory evolution, and discussing its merits in the science classroom would be no more an imposition on students than evolution.

Lordy, lordy. Can you imagine trying to have a conversation with someone like Kevin? On with his letter:

While civil government has no authority to reach into the spiritual realm and dictate to men how they should worship God, the notion that public schools and state-supported universities would be violating separation of church and state by allowing ID to be included in their science instruction is beyond ridiculous.

“Beyond ridiculous”? Not when one examines the creationist origins of ID, which were clearly demonstrated in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. The letter still has a long way to go, so we’ll have to skip a bit. Oh — this is not only original, it’s fantastic:

John T. Scopes, the teacher who was accused of violating a Tennessee law prohibiting the teaching of evolution, said at the 1925 Scopes trial: “Education, you know, means broadening, advancing, and if you limit a teacher to only one side of anything the whole country will eventually have only one thought, be one individual. I believe in teaching every aspect of every problem or theory.” Amen!

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! No creationist in our experience has ever quote-mined John Scopes before. And now we come to the end:

In my view, educators should be required to present all the scientific theories concerning life’s origins, or else be required to abandon the topic altogether. Fairness dictates nothing less.

Hey, Kevin: Ignoring the question of life’s origins — which is not yet known — evolution is the only scientific theory being taught in biology because it’s the only one there is. You’ll understand that if you ever learn what a scientific theory is. Until then, keep writing your letters. They’re very amusing.

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

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AIG Reacts to “Your Inner Fish” Episode 1

At last we have a creationist reaction to Your Inner Fish, which aired last weekend, hosted by Neil Shubin. He discovered Tiktaalik, and told the tale in Your Inner Fish (Amazon listing).

It’s from the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (ol’ Hambo’s online ministry), and the author is Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell. Her bio page at AIG says she’s a physician, board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. She’s a creationist gynecologist, and she explains why Shubin is all wrong.

AIG’s title is: Review: Your Inner Fish, Episode 1. It’s rather long, and what Mitchell does is go through the whole show, describing what Shubin says, and then giving the creationist version. Because it’s so repetitive, we’ll have to skip a lot, so we give you only the goofiest excerpts. As always, the bold font was added by us for emphasis. Here we go:

Your Inner Fish, hosted on PBS by fish paleontologist Neil Shubin of Tiktaalik fame, blends fishy fables with embryology, genetics, and human anatomy. Shubin mingles observable wonders of biology with evolutionary explanations for their origin. He claims the human body itself contains the evidence for evolution and that “we are, every one of us, just a jury-rigged fish.”

“Fishy fables”? Can’t she can do any better than that? We’ll see. Here’s more:

Is there any harm in believing evolutionary “just so stories” about our bodies? There is. Blindly accepting the evolutionary explanations for why our bodies work as they do can lead to poor medical judgment. Wrongly believing that humans are just animals that go through a fish stage in the womb has tragically led many women to destroy the human life within them. And the false belief that the human body suffers from many flaws consequent to our evolutionary heritage leads to a mistaken view of the real origin of suffering and death.

That’s a new one. Now the creationists are blaming abortion on evolution. If abortions weren’t common before Darwin, why did the Hippocratic Oath, attributed to Hippocrates (c. 460 – c. 370 BC), originally say that a doctor would not help a women have an abortion? Surely such an oath wouldn’t mention a non-existent phenomenon. Never mind that. Let’s read on:

Shubin naturally spent much of the episode discussing Tiktaalik, which he found in Devonian rock deemed a little older than that in which Ichthyostega was found. Depicted walking out of the water in computer animations, Shubin opted to not discuss the anatomy needed for this feat, perhaps because Tiktaalik didn’t have it.

Despite declarations that Tiktaalik was “genuinely transitional” and had evolved “features contributing to the trend toward pelvic-propelled locomotion”4 across the terrestrial landscape, Shubin’s recent peer-reviewed writings do not make a case that it trotted out onto land.

No one claims that Tiktaalik literally walked — or trotted. It undoubtedly could only flop around with its bony fins, as walking catfish do today. We continue:

Rather than trying to make a case for Tiktaalik walking, Shubin asserts that the skeletal structure of its lobed fins pre-figured our own arms and hands.

[...]

Having now given viewers a glimpse of God’s marvelous design for the human hand, he gives the “god” of evolution the credit. He says, “So where did this marvel of evolution come from? It clearly has deep roots in the past. And you can see evidence of that in the bones of modern creatures.” Yet this is not “clear.” He simply assumes that similar skeletal patterns — common designs — demonstrate common ancestry rather than a Common Designer.

Ah yes, the designer likes to re-use his old plans — which only gives the appearance of common ancestry. But why does the designer always stick to old patterns? He never comes up with something that couldn’t be due to common ancestry — like a Pegasus or a centaur. Here’s more:

Darwin’s speculative explanation [common ancestry] remains as imaginative today as when he thought of it. Biology reveals animals vary and reproduce within their created kinds. Biological observation is consistent with the biblical account. It only makes sense that a wise Creator, the Common Designer of all living things, would use this versatile, stable skeletal pattern in countless different kinds of creatures.

The whole article is like that. Moving along:

Evolutionists can provide no mechanism for how such a trait [similar bones and muscles in the limbs] could develop through random processes in the first place nor be transferred to some new and more complex terrestrially mobile kind of animal down the road. God provided each kind of animal — and human beings — with the anatomical designs needed to function in its environment, no evolution required.

Can you handle any more? We can’t go on much longer. We’ll skip a few paragraphs about hernias, which Shubin says are due to an inherited design flaw. The creationist gynecologist disagrees. She says:

God designed a perfect human body along with a perfect world in the beginning. How do we know? He told us so in Genesis 1:31. And God warned Adam that rebellion would have consequences (Genesis 2:16–17). Adam did rebel and ever since that day the entire world has groaned (Romans 8:22) under sin’s curse. People’s bodies have worn down, gotten ill, and died. The problem is neither bad design nor evolutionary bondage, but the perversion of God’s good original designs as a consequence of man’s rebellion against the Creator.

Great, huh? The things that work are due to common design. Other things that don’t work so well are due to sin. Neat explanation! Here are the final words of her last paragraph:

We should be thankful that our bodies work as well as they do and that embryologic development usually operates as it should. Anyone who has studied human anatomy and physiology without evolutionary presuppositions — as I, a physician, have been privileged to do — should not recognize our “inner fish” but instead the hand of the Master Designer, our Creator and Savior Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:16–17), and with the psalmist declare we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

We were expecting better, but considering how powerful Tiktaalik is as evidence for evolution, that was probably the best AIG can do.

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

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Curmudgeon’s Creative Challenge #10

There’s no news today — not our kind anyway — so it’s time, dear reader, for another Creative Challenge. But first, you need to be stimulated.

Therefore, we remind you of all the intellectual thrills we’ve provided in the past. Our earlier contests were: #1 (Creationism is to evolution as ___ is to ____), followed by #2 (The typical Discoveroid’s next job will be _____), and then #3 (The Discoveroids are the dregs of _____), and then #4 (The creationists’ biggest lie is _____), and then #5 (Can _____ be defended using only scientific terms?, and then #6 (What shall we call a creationist toilet camera?), and then #7 (Credible evidence for the intelligent designer’s existence would be: ____), and then #8 (Devise an acronym — the individual letters of which are the initial letters of words that disparage the Discoveroids’ theory), and most recently #9 (The only thing less interesting than news of the Discoveroids’ Censor of the Year is ____).

Today’s challenge is inspired by the linguistic propaganda technique constantly employed by the Discoveroids, which we first wrote about back in 2008: Discovery Institute: Their Own Version of Newspeak. They’ve developed a bizarre menagerie of expressions in their ceaseless effort to demonize science, particularly the theory of evolution. It’s a form of Orwellian Newspeak. A few examples mentioned there were: (a) labeling science advocacy groups as “pro-Darwin lobbyists;” (b) referring to those who accept the theory of evolution as “Darwinists;” and (c) dismissing explanations of evolution as “one-sided dogmatic presentations.”

In numerous posts after that we’ve mentioned several other examples. Schools that exclude mysticism from science classes are engaged in “censorship.” Criticizing pseudo-science is “bullying.” The refusal of science to consider unevidenced, untestable, and incomprehensible causes is “intolerance” and “dogmatic materialism” and “viewpoint discrimination.” The imaginary right to insert mysticism into science classes is “academic freedom.” Insisting that science teachers should teach science (and not mysticism) is a “gag order” and “censorship.” Darwinian evolution is “scientific anti-humanism.”

They call their organization a “science think tank,” but their “scientific theory” is based not on verifiable data and testable hypotheses, but only on theological arguments — William Paley’s watchmaker analogy and an appeal to the God of the gaps.

We could give other examples, but that’s sufficient. We now present your challenge, dear reader: You must devise your own terminology for describing the Discoveroids. The principle difference between your terminology and theirs is that theirs is intentionally misleading, but yours must be accurate. The form of the challenge is rather open-ended:

The expression that best describes the Discoveroids or their “science” or their methods is _____ .

We’ll offer a few examples to get your creative juices flowing. The Discoveroids are Paleyists or Gappers. Their “theory” of intelligent design is a facade. Their assault on science is a fatwā. That’s enough. A successful entry should be self-explanatory, but it’s quite all right to elaborate on your proposals.

You know the rules: You may enter the contest as many times as you wish, but you must avoid profanity, vulgarity, childish anatomical analogies, etc. Also, avoid slanderous statements about individuals. Feel free to comment on the entries submitted by others — with praise, criticism, or whatever — but you must do so tastefully. That’s the really challenging part of these contests — being tasteful.

Your Curmudgeon will decide if there’s a winner, and whenever we get around to it we’ll announce who the winner is. There is no tangible prize — as always in life’s great challenges, the accomplishment is its own reward. We now throw open the comments section, dear reader. Go for it!

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