Category Archives: Intelligent Design

Discoveroids’ Revolutionary Revival Meeting

The Discovery Institute, as you know, has a long history of holding creationist revival meetings to promote their peculiar theory of intelligent design. Their events are usually held at churches, unless they can rent a place at a location that will give them some prestige, like a university or a museum. But this time they’re doing something new.

Their article announcing the event is You’re Invited! More than 100 Churches and Other Groups Will Co-Host “Science and Faith” Simulcast on Sunday, September 21. A simulcast? Hosted by more than 100 churches? This sounds like a major new development. Let’s see what’s going on. They say, with bold font added by us:

On September 21, more than a hundred groups across the United States and Canada will host a simulcast on “Science and Faith: Are They Really in Conflict?” The event features Oxford University’s John Lennox, Discovery Institute’s Stephen Meyer, and BreakPoint radio’s Eric Metaxas.

Who are those creationist stars? Two of the names are known to us. John Lennox isn’t officially a Discoveroid, but he participates in many of their revival meetings. Stephen Meyer is not only Vice President of the Discovery Institute, he’s also a Senior Fellow, whom the Discoveroids praise for his book about the Cambrian “explosion,” Darwin’s Doubt. He was a central figure in the infamous Sternberg peer review controversy.

The third name, Eric Metaxas, is one we’ve only run across once before. He’s an admirer of the Discoveroids, and he runs a group in New York that has hosted a speech by Meyer. We discussed that event in Discoveroid Stephen Meyer in the News. Okay, back to the Discoveroids’ announcement:

More than sixty co-hosting groups have agreed to make their simulcast available to the general public, so you are cordially invited to attend.

They provide a link for that, and later they have other links where you can see a list of the sponsoring organizations (they’re almost all churches), and where you can get even more information. Let’s read on:

Here is what’s on the agenda! Has science disproved God? Or do new scientific discoveries actually provide compelling support for faith?

Are those supposed to be alternative propositions? The answer to both questions is “no.” In this next excerpt, they sound just like Ken Ham:

More than half of teens in youth groups plan to pursue careers related to science or technology. Yet surveys show that nearly a third of Christian young people think “churches are out of step with the scientific word we live in,” and a quarter of them believe “Christianity is anti-science.” These views are likely reinforced when they attend college, where 61 percent of biologists identify as atheists or agnostics according to a recent survey.

We assume that the Discoveroids’ revival, like all religious revivals, is intended to increase church attendance. Very scientific. Their article continues:

Other questions to be addressed during the simulcast include:

• Just how “scientific” are the claims of leading atheists?
• Are human beings the result of an unguided Darwinian process?
• Does nature supply evidence of intelligent design?

Are you thrilled, dear reader? Are you motivated to tune in to hear the simulcast? If you’re still undecided, they wrap it up with this:

The simulcast will be of interest to everyone, but it will be especially helpful for parents and their middle school, high school, and college-age kids. Tell your friends!

So there you are. If you’re in the mood for some of that ol’ fashioned, down-home, foot-stompin’, hand-clappin’, psalm-singin’, floor-rollin’, rafter-shakin’, old-time creationism, now you know where to find it.

And there’s one thing you gotta admit: The Discoveroids know how to promote a scientific theory!

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

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The Laws of Nature Don’t Change, #2

This is another post to refute a constant claim of young-Earth creationists that the laws of nature in the past were wildly different from what they are now. Our first post about this, which refers to several different examples of evidence, is Hey, Creationists: Laws of Nature Don’t Change.

Why do creationists insist that the laws of nature were different in the past? It’s obvious — if the laws of nature haven’t changed, then radiometric dating methods are accurate, geological forces currently at work were behaving the same in the past, the speed of light wasn’t wildly faster in the past to get distant starlight to Earth almost instantaneously, and the waters of the Flood couldn’t suddenly come from and then go to somewhere, somehow. That means the universe described in Genesis is utterly impossible. See The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Creation Science.

To defend what’s written in Genesis, creationists declare that scientists don’t know what they’re talking about, because the constancy of the laws of nature is an arbitrary, unverifiable assumption. After all, they say, you don’t know what things were like back then. Were you there?

Well, we weren’t there, but we can see things that were there. Light, for instance. There’s a great article in PhysOrg on this: Three eyes on the sky track laws of Nature 10 billion years ago. They say, with bold font added by us:

Astronomers have focused the three most powerful optical telescopes in the world on a single point in the sky to test one of Nature’s fundamental laws. An international team, led by researchers from Swinburne University of Technology, observed a quasar – the extremely bright surroundings of a supermassive black hole – using the Very Large Telescope in Chile and the W M Keck Observatory and Subaru Telescope, both in Hawaii.

Why are they all looking at that quasar? We’re told:

The quasar light passed through three different galaxies, some 10, 9 and 8 billion years ago, on its way to Earth. These galaxies absorbed a characteristic pattern of colours out of the quasar light, revealing the strength of electromagnetism – one of Nature’s four fundamental forces – in the early and distant Universe.

That’s really good! Let’s read on:

“We spread the light very finely into its component colours, producing a rainbow with a `barcode’ pattern of missing colours. We can then measure electromagnetism by `reading’ this barcode,” said Tyler Evans, Swinburne PhD student and lead author of the new study.

This is the published paper — a 24-page pdf file: The UVES Large Program for testing fundamental physics – III. Constraints on the fine-structure constant from 3 telescopes.

Back to PhysOrg, will skip some stuff about coordinating the three telescopes. Here are the results:

[Associate Professor Michael Murphy, who co-authored the work said:] “Once corrected, all three telescopes gave the same answer: electromagnetism hasn’t changed, within a few parts per million, over 10 billion years. I think this is the most reliable measurement of its kind so far”. The team is now making similarly careful measurements in many other galaxies.

One more excerpt:

“With our new techniques and new quasar observations recently complete, we can make the most accurate check to see whether electromagnetism’s strength really is changing or not,” Associate Professor Murphy said.

What will Hambo and his flock do now? They have two choices: (1) ignore these observations; or (2) mention and dismiss them as the desperate ravings of secularists. Either way, ol’ Hambo is going to stick with his claim that “historical (or origins) science” is worthless, because it’s based on arbitrary, unverifiable assumptions, and the only way to really know what things were like long ago is to read the bible.

Scientists have a somewhat different approach — they observe reality. If reality and scripture disagree, well, the choice of which one to go with is up to you, dear reader.

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

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Creationist Wisdom #471: The Miracle of Uranus

One of our clandestine operatives — code name “Omega” — has sent us a hot tip, for which he will be amply rewarded from the overflowing coffers of Darwinite Hegemony. It’s a letter-to-the-editor that appears in the Journal & Courier of Lafayette, Indiana.

The letter is titled Evolutionary history is based on godless ideology, but to see it you need to scroll down to the fifth item at that link.

We don’t embarrass letter-writers by using their full names, unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures. Today’s writer is responsible for several letters-to-the-editor, but otherwise he doesn’t register at all on the internet, so we’ll use only his first name, which is Jim. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

How did stars and planets form?

Huh? His letter is supposed to be about evolution. Okay, let’s give Jim a chance, dear reader. He’ll get around to it. Then he says:

According to modern science it can be explained by a theory known as the solar nebula concept. According to the theory, large clouds of gas and dust collapsed to form the central star and the planets that orbit it, and thus everything should be orbiting and spinning in the same direction. But that is not what we actually see.

Oh? Tell us more, Jim:

Some galaxies, planets (Venus and Uranus) and many moons are spinning backwards (retrograde motion). Some moons even have a retrograde orbit around their planet. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune have moons orbiting in both directions.

Ignoring Jim’s mysterious mention of retrograde galaxies — whatever they are — we can look at the Wikipedia article on Retrograde and prograde motion. The solar system isn’t much of a problem — all the planets orbit the sun in the same prograde direction as the rotation of the sun. However, Venus and Uranus do rotate on their axes in an unusual way. Venus is virtually upside-down, and seems to rotate in the opposite direction as the other planets. Uranus has slightly more than a 90 degree tilt, and seems to rotate on its side. Explanations have been proposed to explain their rotation (maybe Uranus got whacked), but we’ll leave that for you, dear reader, to discuss in the comments.

Further, Wikipedia says: “There are some satellites [in the solar system] which orbit in the retrograde sense, but these are generally small and distant from their planets, except for Neptune’s satellite Triton, which is large and close. It is thought that these retrograde satellites, including Triton, are bodies which have been captured into orbit around their planets, having been formed elsewhere.” These are interesting, but not catastrophic problems for astronomers.

Also, a few of the recently observed extra-solar planets have a retrograde orbit around their stars. It’s currently thought that those planets formed in what were once clusters of stars, and the planets we observe may have formed around a different star and then got captured by the stars they now orbit. These are interesting problems, but no one is throwing away his telescope and giving up on astronomy.

What does any of this have to do with evolution? Nothing, so let’s skip most of Jim’s letter, because he doesn’t even mention evolution until the end:

Real science is based on data from experiments and observation and its laws can predict with certainty what will happen under various conditions. Evolutionary theory is based on a godless ideology and its laws conflict with what we actually observe in the universe.

Aaaargh!! We went through Jim’s whole letter, and that’s it? What’s he saying, that God is responsible for retrograde motion? Where is that in the bible? And what does Uranus have to do with evolution?

Well, this may not be a total loss. Maybe y’all can come up with some tasteful Uranus jokes.

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

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Discoveroid Denyse O’Leary Strikes Again

The Discovery Institute has posted another winner by Denyse O’Leary — Bright New Discoveroid Star. Our last post about one of her intellectually dazzling essays was Discoveroid Denyse O’Leary — She’s Fantastic!

Now she has another which is worthy of our attention: Darwin’s “Horrid Doubt”: The Mind. Her essay is solid chaos from start to finish, but we’ll excerpt the especially amusing parts. The bold font was added by us:

Many people in their forties today grew up with science as the business end of naturalist atheism. In their view, a “scientific” explanation is one that describes a universe devoid of meaning, value, or purpose. That is how we know it is a scientific explanation.

Aaaargh!! No, Denyse. A scientific explanation is a comprehensible explanation of all the relevant observable data that can be tested, at least in principle, to determine if it is worthy of further consideration. (It should be obvious to all that the Discoveroids’ so-called theory of intelligent design fails in every particular.) Then she says this:

[M]ultiverse cosmology can consist entirely of evidence-free assumptions. Yet only a few question whether it is science.

[...]

Similarly, origin-of-life studies are “scientific” to the extent that they seek an origin without any intelligent cause. A century and a half of dead ends prompts no rethink; neither would a millennium. Even if probability theorists can show, beyond reasonable doubt, that an intelligent cause is required, their correct explanation would be rejected because it is not “scientific.”

Aaaargh!! Actually, there’s controversy over status of the multiverse as a scientific concept. The Wikipedia article on the multiverse has a powerful section on criticism. As for origin-of-life, who cares what Discoveroid “probability theorists” say? They have even less stature than ancient astronaut theorists. Despite the ravings of creationists, no one has demonstrated that the natural emergence of life is impossible, and several plausible scenarios have been proposed. Let’s read on:

And in studies of human evolution, the starting point is that “humans are evolved primates, an unexceptional twig on the tree of life, though like other twigs, we are accidental outliers.” Again, no one seeks to demonstrate that proposition.

Aaaargh!! In Denyse’s peculiar world, morphology, fossils, and DNA evidence mean nothing. She continues:

Darwin had doubts about how the Cambrian period fitted his theory. But his “horrid doubt” concerned the human mind:

[Denyse quote-mines Darwin:] But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?

Aaaargh!! We’ve discussed that wildly out-of-context quote a few times before — see A Preacher Quote-Mines Darwin. (The full context is Darwin’s lifetime of work and writing, and the fact that he never doubted the theory of evolution.) Here’s a wee bit more from Denyse:

Ironically, while Darwin may have doubted the fully naturalized mind and felt horrid about it, most of his latter-day supporters believe and feel good. And, on its own terms, their faith cannot be disconfirmed.

So there you are, dear reader. Denyse has exposed the pathetic way you look at things. You believe in evolution and feel good; your faith is unshakable. But that’s because you’re a fool! The idea of a mind as a natural phenomenon made Darwin feel horrid.

That’s where we’ll leave Denyse, but we have a few lingering thoughts: How much of this nonsense can the Discoveroids endure and still survive? Is there any limit? If there is, are they approaching it? Or have they already surpassed it? In a rational world, they’re like Wile E. Coyote, who has just run off the end of a cliff. Any moment now, the inevitable descent will begin. Perhaps Denyse signals that it has already begun.

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

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