Category Archives: Intelligent Design

Joy to the World — The Ark Is Approved

Noah's Ark (by Edward Hicks, 1846)

Noah’s Ark (by Edward Hicks, 1846)

The last time we looked in on Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) and his proposed Ark Encounter project, he was Looking for More Tax Breaks.

As you know, ol’ Hambo is the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, , famed for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG), and for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

Now we have an update, which we found at the website of NBC television station WLWT in Cincinnati, Ohio, not far from ol’ Hambo’s operations across the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky. Their ungrammatical headline is: Grant [County] ark park get preliminary approval for tax rebates. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

A state tourism board gave preliminary approval on Tuesday for up to $18 million in tax rebates for a proposed full-sized replica of the massive ark as described in the book of Genesis. … If the rebates are approved, the project’s owners – Crosswater canyon, a nonprofit subsidiary of Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis ministry – would receive up to 25 percent of the $73 million anticipated cost of the project. The owners would get that money over 10 years only after the ark is built and open to the public.

Preliminary approval! That means ol’ Hambo can start construction. The angels in heaven must be singing. Then we’re told:

Project co-founder Mike Zovath said organizers plan to use the rebates to invest in more attractions, including a replica of the Tower of Babel and a walled-city modeled after Biblical times – except it would include modern restaurants and shops that Zovath compared to “Downtown Disney.”

That makes sense. If they don’t spend the money on more attractions, they might have to use it to pay off their bondholders. Let’s read on:

The proposed state support for a religious theme park has drawn the ire of groups like Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. “We believe that the park is clearly a sectarian endeavor and should be ineligible from any tax incentives form the state,” spokeswoman Sarah Jones said.

Your Curmudgeon has been thinking about this issue. States don’t tax churches, so they can’t give them any more tax breaks, but a bible-based theme park generates sales taxes. Why should it be treated differently from any other tourist attraction?

Also, states routinely offer tax incentives and tax holidays to encourage industrial development. Obviously, Hambo’s activities don’t come close to being a computer factory or an auto assembly plant, but maybe a replica of Noah’s Ark is the only kind of “industry” that Kentucky can expect, or maybe it’s what they want to encourage. It’s Kentucky’s decision. Regardless of what we think of creationism, the sales tax kickback doesn’t seem improper.

The news article continues:

However, the criticisms have been ineffective. The project has the support of the state’s Democratic governor. And Keith Williams, chairman of the board that gave preliminary approval to the deal on Tuesday, said the board strictly looks at a project’s estimated economic impact on the state’s tourism industry.

Aside from the Kentucky Derby, what else does Kentucky have to attract tourists? Here’s more:

Kentucky’s state government could make money off the deal. If the project attracts enough tourists, the state could collect more than $18 million in sales taxes. That’s one of the things an independent consultant will review over the next several weeks before making a recommendation to the tourism board.

They’ll probably give it the final approval. Here’s one more excerpt:

Construction is scheduled to begin this year, with several Amish builders already committed to build the Ark’s frame. It is scheduled to open by the summer of 2016. Tickets will cost $33 for adults.

Only $33? That’s a real bargain! But if you plan to go, we suggest that you wear boots. The drool is going to be everywhere, and it’ll be deep.

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

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Rev. David Rives Demolishes Evolution

Blaring sirens and flashing lights! The Drool-o-tron™ was calling to us. The blinking letters of its wall display said WorldNetDaily (WND), and our computer was locked onto WND’s presentation of the latest video by the brilliant and articulate leader of David Rives Ministries.

WND’s headline is Those who know history refute evolution, and their subtitle is “David Rives makes analogy from example of the unicycle.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The unicycle! We couldn’t ignore this one. The actual title of the video is Simple to complex evolution — a unicycle to a car, an amoeba to a man.

The rev, looking cute and all dressed up in his bible boy suit, says that the analogy from a unicycle to a car is all wrong — it didn’t happen in that sequence. Wow — that’s a powerful argument against evolution!

He says that just because something sounds like a reasonable assumption doesn’t mean it’s true. Besides that, living things are far more complicated than those devices. And we have the true history of our creation — in the bible!

Go ahead, click over to WND and take a look. The rev makes a very persuasive case. The thing runs for the usual 90 seconds before the commercial at the end.

As we always do with the rev’s videos, we dedicate the comments section for your use as an Intellectual Free Fire Zone. You know the rules. Okay, the comments are open. Go to it!

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

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There Are Weird Creationists in South Carolina

The news is all over the place about a topic we last wrote about here: South Carolina Creationism Standards: Rejected. The next two indented paragraphs provide background information, which most of you can skip:

New language for high school biology standards is headed for consideration to the South Carolina State Board of Education that would have students learn “the controversy.” The S.C. Education Oversight Committee sent proposed language to the board that would require biology students to construct scientific arguments that seem to support and seem to discredit Darwinism.

The State Board of Education was scheduled vote on adoption of the creationist standards on June 11. If the Board doesn’t approve the new standards, then the state keeps its 2005 standards — which apparently don’t promote creationism. State Senator Mike Fair — a long time creationism advocate — was responsible for the proposed revision of the standards. The Discovery Institute had been lobbying for this change, but the state board of education didn’t adopt Mike Fair’s creationist proposal.

We’ll start with our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), who posted this late yesterday: End to the impasse in sight? They say:

A panel approved a proposed revision to the section on evolution in South Carolina’s new state science standards, according to The State (July 29, 2014). If the revision is approved by the state board of education and the Education Oversight Committee [EOC], it will end the impasse over South Carolina’s state science standards that began with the EOC’s refusal in December 2013 to accept a standard covering evolution.

What’s the proposed revision — which still has to navigate a labyrinth of bureaucracies to get adopted? NCSE says:

According (PDF) to the panel’s agenda, the proposed revision adds a new standard and a related performance indicator as follows:

H.B.5D. Conceptual Understanding: Science is the systematic gathering of information through both direct and indirect observation, and the testing of this information by experimentation with the aim of developing concepts and formulation of laws and theories. Scientific conclusions are tested by experiment and observation, and evolution, as with any aspect of science, is continually open to and subject to experimental and observational testing.

Performance Indicator: Student who demonstrate this understanding can:
H.B.5D.1 Explain how scientists develop theories and laws by using deductive and inductive reasoning in situations where direct observation and testing are possible and also by inference through experimental and observational testing of historical scientific claims. Students should understand assumptions scientists make in situations where direct evidence is limited and understand that all theories may change as new scientific information is obtained.

Huh? That sounds pretty good to us. In fact, NCSE tells us:

The language of the revision largely derives from the National Science Teachers Association’s position statement on evolution.

What does Mike Fair — the South Carolina creationist war horse — think of this? According to what we’re told by The Herald of Rock Hill, South Carolina in this article SC evolution update clears hurdle, headed for final OK:

Fair said the proposed language will lead to more “critical thinking” in the classroom. It could allow students to ask questions about creation theories other than evolution.

He’s dreaming. And at the website of NBC television station WSAV of Savannah, Georgia we read New Standard for Teaching Evolution in S.C. Gets Approval. They say:

The standard is a compromise, after member Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, wanted language calling for students to question the theory of natural selection. He voted for the compromise. “Hopefully, they’ll stimulate even more in-depth questions, which then will beg for some critical thinking to come up with some opinions, and some inferences made by the students,” he said after the meeting.

If Fair supports the new standard, it will likely be approved by the other bureaucracies and go into effect for the coming school year. But why is a creationist like Mike Fair supporting the proposal? Does he actually think it helps his cause?

The way we see it, he’s so confused he thinks that by defining evolution as a theory, which of course it is, he has somehow succeeded in denigrating it. And by encouraging students to ask questions about it, he imagines that the theory will not be able to survive. That’s how sincere creationists think, so he actually believes that he’s accomplished something.

In other words, he’s living in a Jack Chick comic book. Would that all our adversaries were as simple-minded as Mike Fair.

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

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Discoveroids: Scientists, Cast Off Your Chains!

We are accustomed to the creationists’ claim that they and the “evolutionists” work with the same evidence, but we start with different presuppositions. Creationists begin all their thinking by presupposing the existence of God and The Truth of the bible.

The creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG) write about this often. They call it presuppositional apologetics. AIG says:

If we start off believing the Bible is the Word of God [scripture omitted], then we use it as our axiom. An axiom (often used in logic) is a proposition that is not susceptible to proof or disproof; its truth is assumed. … The battle is not over evidence but over philosophical starting points: presuppositions.

It’s true, of course, that science uses axioms. They’re imbedded in the scientific method. One is logic. We must accept the validity of Aristotelian logic as an axiom, because logic underlies all our intellectual efforts. Without it, for example, contradictions would be acceptable and experiments would be pointless. If logic is out … then it’s in! Life without logic is great. Well, illogically speaking, it is and it isn’t.

Axioms can’t be proved, but something that is truly axiomatic must be accepted. Without logic we’d be unable to recognize false conclusions, and without free will (another axiom), we couldn’t reject false conclusions. Anther fundamental axiom of science is the validity of sensory evidence (augmented by the evidence of our instruments), without which we have no verifiable information. There’s also the existence of objective reality, which is the source of the information we obtain from our senses.

The so-called axioms of religion, on the other hand, are different. They’re essential for a specific religion, of course, but they’re totally arbitrary. The Greeks, for example, accepted the existence of the Olympian gods as being axiomatic. But other religions have their own beliefs, and each of them functions independently of the others. People can and do switch from one religion to another. Atheists manage to function with no religious axioms. Therefore, no religion’s dogma is truly axiomatic, in the way that scientific axioms are.

AIG isn’t the only creationist outfit to claim that science is just an arbitrary presupposition. The Discovery Institute does it too. A good example is the latest post at their creationist blog: National Academy of Sciences: Dobzhansky’s “In the Light of Evolution” Mantra Is Not a Deduction, but a Premise. We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis.

They begin by mentioning Theodosius Dobzhansky’s 1973 statement, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” We all know that’s true, but watch how the Discoveroids misuse words and concepts as they attempt to create doubts. They tell us that:

[T]he National Academy of Sciences has presented an ongoing series of colloquia, “In the Light of Evolution.” … In the introduction to the series in PNAS [the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences], Francisco Ayala, Brian Skyrms and John Avise make it clear that evolution is to be viewed as a paradigm, not a conclusion from evidence.

[*Sigh*] That’s not what they say, because it’s totally wrong. A scientific theory doesn’t begin as an arbitrary paradigm, the way religions do, but as a conclusion from verifiable evidence. Once it’s well-established, a theory can be used a framework for understanding additional evidence. That’s the function of a theory. But a theory’s ability to function that way is not based on a presupposition of the theory’s truth. It’s the hard-earned — and always tentative — result of a great deal of evidence and tests that have established the usefulness of the theory — and the absence of evidence that casts doubt on the theory.

If there were evidence that contradicted the theory of evolution — the classic example is the ever-elusive Precambrian rabbit — the theory would be in doubt. But if a theory continues to predict verifiable results (as in The Lessons of Tiktaalik), its acceptance grows — as does its usefulness as a paradigm.

Then the Discoveroids quote from In the light of evolution VIII: Darwinian thinking in the social sciences. A portion of their quote is as follows:

Most scientists agree that evolution provides the unifying framework for interpreting biological phenomena that otherwise can often seem unrelated and perhaps unintelligible. Given the central position of evolutionary thought in biology, it is sadly ironic that evolutionary perspectives outside the sciences have often been neglected, misunderstood, or purposefully misrepresented. … The central goal of the “In the Light of Evolution” (ILE) series is to promote the evolutionary sciences through state-of-the-art colloquia and their published proceedings.

Note that the series, “In the Light of Evolution,” is referred to as ILE. The Discoveroids, being oh-so-clever, twist that around and say this:

For short, let’s refer to Dobzhansky’s remark as the “Light in Evolution” principle, or LIE.

Isn’t that precious? That’s why we love the Discoveroids. They go on:

Is the LIE a flashlight or a filter? Does it objectively illuminate facts to a candid observer, or does it determine what the observer is permitted to see? In other words, does the LIE shed light, or process it? The passage cited above makes it clear how the NAS views it: it’s a filter. It’s a framework, or paradigm, for interpreting all observations. Nothing makes sense except within the LIE.

Yes, yes! We see it now. We must cast off the straitjacket of evolution and free our minds to accept the wonders of Oogity Boogity! The Discoveroids continue:

Since the LIE is an axiom — a given, a premise — several conclusions deductively follow: [Brace yourself, dear reader, you're about to see an ark-load of Discoveroid conclusions.]

• All objections to the LIE are nonsense by definition.
• Outside the LIE framework, biological phenomena “can often seem unrelated and perhaps unintelligible” because the LIE stipulates what relatedness and intelligibility are.
• Of course “Most scientists agree that evolution provides the unifying framework for interpreting biological phenomena” because the LIE determines who is a true scientist.
• Since the LIE is assumed prior to religion and philosophy, those realms will also only make sense in the LIE framework.
• Any research that doesn’t explain things with the LIE is unscientific.
• Any activity that fails to promote the LIE is evil.
• Any interpretation that fails to pass the LIE detector will be impermissible in science.

Isn’t that great? But they’ve only begun. Here’s more:

It’s like Stalinism: anything that failed to advance the regime was a crime against the state. Researchers in the Soviet system became very adept, therefore, at interpreting every observation in light of Marxism-Leninism, economic determinism, and dialectical materialism. It made perfect sense (if you wanted to stay alive). So too, the editors at the NAS see to it that every paper published submits to the LIE and has the Darwinian imprimatur.

The Darwinian system seeks not just to control the message, but the very thought processes of the people. This has given rise to an Orwellian language called “Darwinian thinking.”

The Discoveroid essay is a long one. We have to skip most of it. Oh, we can’t omit this. It’ll be our last excerpt:

Advocates of intelligent design have an ace card, however. Since we do not believe that the human mind is an epiphenomenon of matter, but has an intelligent cause, we view our Darwinian thinkers as rational agents, too — but captives to self-deception. Deep down, they share our common rationality. This gives cause for hope that their minds can be awakened from dogmatic slumber.

There is hope for you, dear reader. But first you must become aware of the chains that bind you and cast them off. Only then you can you emerge from the Darwinian darkness into the bright sunlight to become an enlightened thinker — like the Discoveroids.

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

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