Category Archives: Intelligent Design

Casey Defeats Evolution! Well, Maybe Not

This must be Casey Luskin week at the Discovery Institute. That’s okay, he’s our favorite creationist. He’s talking again about his chapter in a new creationist book — we posted about it yesterday: Casey’s Evidence for Intelligent Design.

His new post is Humans Display Many Behavioral and Cognitive Abilities that Offer No Apparent Survival Advantage. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

In recent years, biologists have tried to explain human moral, intellectual, and religious capacities in terms of Darwinian evolution. Harvard University evolutionary psychologist Marc Hauser has promoted the increasingly common hypothesis that “people are born with a moral grammar wired into their neural circuits by evolution.”

Maybe. Or maybe it’s all learned behavior. This is what Casey says:

Humans do appear hard-wired for morality, but were we programmed by unguided evolutionary processes? Natural selection cannot explain extreme acts of human kindness.

Nor can natural selection cannot explain extreme acts of cruelty. So what? Humans have intelligence and free will; we aren’t creatures driven by pure instinct. After giving us a few examples of extremely altruistic behavior, Casey says:

In spite of the claims of evolutionary psychologists, many of humanity’s most impressive charitable, artistic, and intellectual abilities outstrip the basic requirements of natural selection. If life is simply about survival and reproduction, why do humans compose symphonies, investigate quantum mechanics, and build cathedrals?

Aaaargh!! Isn’t this grand? Casey is bravely battling a straw-man, and claiming victory over the non-existent “Darwinist” assertion that everything we do is “simply about survival and reproduction.” He proudly declares:

Contrary to Darwinism, the evidence indicates that human life isn’t about mere survival and reproduction.

Darwin was a fool, and Casey is victorious! Then he makes his point even stronger:

But in addition to our moral uniqueness, humans are also distinguished by their use of complex language.

Casey quotes somebody who allegedly says: “Human language appears to be a unique phenomenon, without significant analogue in the animal world.” [*Curmudgeon swoons*] Wow — Casey is such a meticulous scholar! He concludes with this:

Finally, humans are also the only species that seeks to investigate the natural world through science. In fact, the next time someone tries to break down the differences between humans and apes, remind them that it’s humans who write scientific papers studying apes, not the other way around.

Okay, so where does that leave us? Casey has suddenly discovered that humans have unique abilities and exhibit unique behavior. But the rest of us already knew that, and Darwin’s theory doesn’t claim otherwise.

Has Casey’s discovery somehow defeated the theory of evolution? He may think so, but we just don’t see it. In fact, we don’t understand his post at all. So we appeal to you, dear reader. Can you figure out what Casey is trying to do?

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

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Creationism — So What?

There’s a relatively new website that seems to have a load of writers of the right-wing persuasion. Wikipedia has a brief writeup on them: The Federalist. They’re located in Alexandria, Virginia. Aside from their conservatism, which doesn’t much bother us, they appear to be a pack of creationists.

They’ve already been cited a few times by the Discoveroids — e.g.: Forget Cosmos, Here’s Further Confirmation of Neil Tyson’s Tendency to Commit Taradiddles. So because they may become a new source of entertainment, let’s take a look at something we found there today.

Here are some excerpts from Science Says Creationists Aren’t Idiots. Strange title, huh? We’ve added a bit of bold font for emphasis:

They being by mentioning some article written by Virginia Heffernan, Why I’m a creationist, in which she said that she “never found a more compelling story of our origins than the ones that involve God.” Then they mention some mainstream media criticism of her article, and they ask:

Now that a year has passed and the media circus has ended, we can re-examine the issue more calmly. Why does rejecting evolution get so much attention from mainstream journalists? [Two critics offered] one typical response: Heffernan’s writing couldn’t be trusted because she is a creationist. Heffernan’s “dedication to facts is somewhat in question.”

That seems reasonable to us, but The Federalist sees things differently. They say:

Note they make an empirical claim: because of their beliefs about the origins of life, creationists cannot think rationally or logically anywhere. Put another way, it’s possible to determine people’s general reasoning and analytical skills by knowing what they think about the theory of evolution. … Given that their argument depends on their ability to draw conclusions from creationists’ beliefs, it’s a glaring oversight.

Is it really? Let’s read on:

Suppose that rejecting evolution does not infringe on your ability to reason elsewhere. Suppose it is possible to be a creationist and also a top-notch journalist, doctor, or scientist. Suppose that your belief about the age of the Earth is irrelevant to your daily life and has no ill consequences. [The critics'] argument would then fall apart. As long as rejecting evolution in and of itself is harmless, why should anyone care what Heffernan believes about evolution? Why get excited?

A fair question. Your Curmudgeon has never claimed that all creationists are inherently incompetent at everything, and should therefore be confined to mental hospitals. Indeed, we’ve seen that a creationist can be an architect, or dentist, or a number of other things. Many seem to be engineers. But they function in those occupations by using knowledge, skills, and technologies that are clearly non-biblical. When they put their specialties aside and embrace creationism, they exhibit a disturbing willingness to accept ideas that not only can’t be tested or even investigated, but which require rejection of theories that are supported by vast amounts of verifiable evidence. This is reality denial, and it justifies skepticism about their overall commitment to rationality. The Federalist continues:

Feelings and desires don’t matter here — only data matter. We have to answer some empirical questions: Does rejecting evolution affect your thinking outside biology? Is there a connection between how we think about this and other topics?

Yes, we think there is a connection. It’s one thing to say “I don’t understand biology” (or cosmology, or geology), but it’s quite another to say “I reject them and all of their evidence because they disagree with my reading of scripture.” Here’s more:

A sports analogy might be illuminating. We don’t expect basketball players to excel at tennis. … Skills don’t always transfer from one area to another. I suspect we all grasp this idea. We are all good at some things and not others.

Bad analogy. Really bad. Moving along:

Let’s now reframe the debate: We already recognize that athletic skills in one area may be meaningless in another. Why don’t we do something similar for intellectual skills? Why conclude that rejecting evolution renders someone intellectually impotent everywhere? … [T]his is an empirical question that should be studied scientifically. We must look at the evidence before deciding.

[*Groan*] The author refers to some study that allegedly concludes “you can’t predict someone’s science literacy from his or her belief in evolution.” Well, we disagree. Here’s another excerpt:

Perhaps [the critics'] most egregious oversight was ignoring the data right in front of them: Heffernan was already an accomplished journalist!

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! On with the article:

The [critics of Heffernan's creationism] are intellectually and ethically obligated to prove creationists’ beliefs are harmful. Not harmful in a metaphysical or abstract sense. And not in the “I’m uncomfortable with your lifestyle” or “creationism violates my moral values” sense. But concrete, measurable harm — the type of harm they demand proof for when conservatives suggest gay marriage and promiscuous sex are harmful.

Well, if a creationist is happy merely to live in his own world, and doesn’t insist on crippling science education, then the creationist is only affecting himself — and probably his children. But the creationist activists we write about are determined to shut down science — all of it. Now we come to the end:

Mainstream journalists have not come close to meeting their own standards. They have only shown they don’t like and are uncomfortable with creationists. But that’s not enough to justify the vitriol and acrimony they routinely heap on people like Heffernan. They must explain how, if being a creationist is such a problem, [various creationists can succeed in their specialties.] … Until they do, it’s perfectly okay — by their own values — to be a creationist. So go ahead, if you feel like.

Yeah, so what if someone is a creationist? Or an astrologer? Or a faith healer? Who cares? What’s the big deal? Teach the controversy!

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

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WorldNetDaily: It’s a Young World After All

Buffoon Award

We kept ignoring the blaring sirens and flashing lights of the Drool-o-tron™, because when we looked at the blinking letters of the wall display they said WorldNetDaily (WND). Yesterday the durned contrivance had given us a false alarm, which turned out to be a Rev Rives oldie goldie.

But this time it was no mistake. The Drool-o-tron™ had locked our computer onto an article by Joseph Farah, founder, CEO, and editor of WND. The headline is Was world created 6,028 years ago today?

As you know, WND was an early winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award, thus the jolly logo displayed above this post. So we eagerly read Farah’s column. Then we patted the Drool-o-tron™. This time it had done its job well. Here are some excerpts from Farah’s essay, with some bold font added by us for emphasis:

Was the world created 6,028 years ago today? That’s a question that will drive fans of Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking up the wall. I don’t know that it was. I don’t think anyone but God knows the actual day of creation.

But one of the greatest biblical and historical scholars of the 17th century, Archbishop James Ussher, meticulously calculated all the data he could find about the day of creation, and that’s what he came up with … .

Okay, so Farah is a fan of the totally unscientific Ussher chronology, published in the 1650s. That’s what we’d expect from the head of WND. But he’s just getting started:

Do you believe the world is hundreds of millions or even billions of years old as evolutionists do? Or do you believe the Earth is much younger, in line with the biblical genealogies beginning with Adam and Eve? People get annoyed with me when I raise this issue. They say, “Farah, why don’t you stick with politics, instead of science and religion?” They say I jeopardize my credibility in reporting the news and the pressing issues of the day.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! What credibility? Let’s read on:

Why do I think it matters how old the Earth is? There are two reasons:

• I take the Bible literally – and seriously. And the Bible strongly affirms a date in the neighborhood of 6,000 years, at least for the age of man, who was created on the sixth day, according to Genesis. If that’s not true, it calls into question the rest of the Bible’s accuracy.

Atheists like Dawkins and Hawking are every bit as dogmatic about their theories of the age of the Earth as I am. They know they need lots of time to give their fairy tales about life spontaneously generating any credibility at all. Godless miracles require time, you know, lots of time.

Lordy, lordy. The man has no mind at all! He continues:

One thing we know for sure: Science can never prove the age of the Earth. Because science requires a methodology of observation and empirical testing that could never be done on an event that occurred thousands of years ago, millions of years ago or billions of years ago. God can, however, prove the age of the Earth because He was there. And someday, when He returns to judge His creation, He might just do that. Until then, we have the detailed historical record He left us with in written form – the Bible.

We don’t need to go on, do we? Oh, all right, but not too much more:

I know what some of you are thinking: “Farah, what about the dinosaurs that were tens of millions of years old? How do you explain that?” Quite simply, I don’t believe it. Throughout man’s history, in every culture, we have stories, pictures and sculptures depicting dragons and leviathans and sea serpents. Are we to believe these were all concocted in man’s imagination? …

But here’s the bottom line: Is it crazier for me to believe the world is around 6,000 years old than it is to accept as scientific fact that it is actually millions or billions of years old? Where’s the proof? Either way.

We won’t answer Farah’s question as to which belief is crazier. Then he gives us a bunch of bible stuff, after which we have some more goodies:

Have you ever considered the fact that there is no reliable history of man before 6,000 years ago? Why would that be? I know there are ancient myths that suggest man is older than 6,000 years. But there is no reliable human history. What could explain that?

Uh, maybe because no one could write back then? No, Farah has a better answer:

The Bible explains it. Man can’t. He can only speculate, imagine, fantasize and proselytize.

Okay, we’re persuaded. The world was created 6,000 years ago. That’s why there’s no written history before then.

We can’t take any more of this. If you can, then click over there and read it all. You might learn something.

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

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Casey’s Evidence for Intelligent Design

The Discovery Institute has a problem — it’s been their principal problem from the beginning: They have no evidence to support their “theory” of intelligent design, which they nevertheless insist is the “best” explanation for the universe, life, and everything.

We’ve previously posted about what they claim is their evidence. For example, in Intelligent Designer or Zeus? we pointed out that Casey’s list of questions doesn’t provide proof, or even evidence, for the existence and alleged activities of the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — because the designer is merely one of many supernatural agents who might be responsible. We said:

[C]laiming that the magic designer is the cause of those things is literally no different from claiming that Zeus caused them. If your Curmudgeon presented a long list of Zeus’ alleged accomplishments, it wouldn’t mean that our list is scientific evidence for the role of Zeus in our world. … [T]he Curmudgeon’s “Zeus theory” is every bit as good as ID. Better, really, because ol’ Zeus had an eye for the ladies. That’s a very good quality in a deity.

Earlier, Casey wrote about the Discoveroids’ Top Ten Problems with Evolution. We discussed the first three and easily dismissed them. Today he’s doing it again. That’s to be expected. Repeating clunkers is a time-honored creationist activity.

Okay, dear reader, here are some excerpts from New Book Discusses Scientific and Theological Problems with Darwinian Evolution, which appears at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog. Casey says, with bold font added by us:

A new book, More Than Myth?, features contributions from various pro-ID authors discussing the scientific and theological problems with Darwinian evolution. … Their vision for the book was to show that both Catholics and Protestants can agree that there is scientific and theological evidence showing that intelligent design — rather than Darwinian evolution — is the best way to explain life.

Ah, that was their “vision.” And the most exciting news is that Casey himself contributed a chapter for the book. That’s how you know it’s worth your attention. Here’s the Amazon listing: More than Myth?: Seeking the Full Truth about Genesis, Creation, and Evolution. There are no reviews yet. If you buy it now, maybe you’ll be the first. Anyway, let’s read some more from Casey’s new post:

Though many of the other contributions in the book are theological, discussing ways to interpret the Bible from an “old earth” perspective, my entry is strictly scientific, and only discusses scientific problems with evolutionary science.

Casey’s chapter is “strictly scientific.” BWAHAHAHAHAHA! And note that he discusses only “problems” with evolution. He doesn’t even suggest that there’s any evidence for his designer. He continues:

My chapter’s title is “The Top Ten Scientific Problems with Biological and Chemical Evolution,” originally inspired by my two posts [one of which we mentioned above]. However, the version in the book expands greatly on some of the points there. I list the following problems:

The rest of Casey’s little essay is a list of his problems with evolution. We’ll only mention a few, but before we do so, we must point out that even if these were truly problems (and not merely unanswered questions), what would they mean? To us, they would be a list of research topics, nothing more. You will note that Casey’s catalog of “problems” doesn’t even hint at anything that contradicts the theory of evolution.

But we know you’re eager to see his list, and we’ve kept you waiting too long, so here it is:

Problem 1: No viable mechanism to generate a primordial soup.

Aaaargh!! That’s his number one problem? It has nothing to do with the theory of evolution. Further, there are well-understood mechanisms that could have provided the organic chemical “soup” from which self-replicating molecules eventually emerged. Claiming that the Discoveroids’ designer cooked up the soup is: (1) unnecessary; and (b) no better than claiming that the master chef was Zeus. Here’s Casey’s next goodie:

Problem 2: Unguided chemical processes cannot explain the origin of the genetic code.

Balderdash! There is absolutely no known reason why the formation of DNA molecules is impossible. Moving along, here’s the next item:

Problem 3: Random mutations cannot generate the genetic information required for irreducibly complex structures.

Oooooooooh! Information! That’s the magic pixie dust which only the designer can provide — see Phlogiston, Vitalism, and Information.

Okay, that’s enough. If you want to see all of Casey’s “evidence,” go ahead. His post is sitting there, waiting for you. If you find anything that’s worth our attention, please let us know. Meanwhile, we continue to be proud of what we announced four years ago: Casey Luskin Is Named a Curmudgeon Fellow.

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

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