Category Archives: Intelligent Design

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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A Tale of Moose Drool and Fungus

The Drool-o-tron™ seems to be developing a personality. It signaled us with its blaring sirens and flashing lights. The blinking letters of the wall display said York University .

What? York University in Toronto, Canada’s third-largest university? So it seems. Our computer was locked onto this news release at the university’s website: Moose drool inhibits growth of toxic fungus: York U research. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Some sticky research out of York University shows a surprisingly effective way to fight against a certain species of toxic grass fungus: moose saliva (yes… moose saliva).

People have been battling toxic fungus for millennia, but until now, no one ever thought of using moose drool. Those Canadians are smart! We’re told:

Published in this month’s Biology Letters, “Ungulate saliva inhibits a grass–endophyte mutualism” shows that moose and reindeer saliva, when applied to red fescue grass (which hosts a fungus called epichloë festucae that produces the toxin ergovaline) results in slower fungus growth and less toxicity.

Here’s a link to the published paper: Ungulate saliva inhibits a grass–endophyte mutualism. You can read it online without a subscription. Let’s stay with the news release:

Inspired by an earlier study that showed that moose grazing and saliva distribution can have a positive effect on plant growth, the research team set out to test an interesting hypothesis – whether moose saliva may, in fact, “detoxify” the grass before it is eaten.

This ranks with the apple that fell on Isaac Newton’s head and inspired his theory of gravity. Get ready now, because here comes a description of scientists at work:

Working in partnership with the Toronto Zoo, the team collected saliva samples from moose and reindeer, which they then smeared onto clipped samples of red fescue grass carrying the toxic fungus, simulating the effect of grazing. They found that the application of saliva produced rapid results, inhibiting fungus growth within 12-36 hours.

We can see it now — a Canadian biologist comes home from a hard day’s work and his wife asks: “What did you do today, dear?”

Okay, that’s enough excerpts, and it’s also enough Curmudgeonly remarks. You’ve got some reading to do if you want to be up-to-date on this topic. But we can’t leave it there. This has inspired us to challenge you, dear reader.

Our challenge is this: What might be a beneficial use of creationists’ drool? There’s so much of the stuff, there must be a purpose for it. Surely you can think of something.

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

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More Troubles for Kent Hovind?

No one writes much about Kent Hovind (a/k/a “Dr. Dino”) these days. Wikipedia describes Hovind’s conviction for tax evasion, and they present a few tidbits from his bizarre defense.

In January of 2007 he was sentenced to ten years in the slammer, and that’s where he’s been ever since. His appeals have all been unsuccessful. His wife, who was his bookkeeper, served one year in prison. His son, Eric Hovind, is continuing in his father’s creationist tradition, but we assume he’s paying taxes and staying out of trouble.

In his prime, Hovind was one of the flamingist creationists in existence — in the same category as Jack Chick. In fact, Chick’s website has promoted Hovind — see Jack Chick Presents Kent Hovind’s Videos. The classic Chick comic book, Big Daddy?, actually cites Hovind as an authority beneath one of the panels — the one where the creationist kid tells his teacher that the Lucy fossil isn’t a human ancestor. His “doctorate” is from a diploma mill named Patriot University (they used to have a page about him at their website, but it’s been taken down).

We weren’t expecting this, but we found some news about Hovind at the website of Forbes. Their article is Time To Let Kent Hovind Go Home? Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

I was saddened to learn that Kent Hovind will be facing a new criminal charge. Many people believe that Doctor Dino’s incarceration for tax related crimes was actually a response to his effectiveness as a proponent of “creation science”.


I remain quite skeptical of that view, since there are several “creation science” organizations with IRS recognized 501(c)(3) status including Creation Today, which is run by Kent’s son, Eric. Nonetheless, the latest criminal charge which is scheduled for trial on September 8, 2014 really strikes me as piling it on.

Poor Dr. Dino. The Darwinist conspiracy is still trying to destroy him. What’s his latest problem? After a few paragraphs of background about creationism and Hovind’s career, we’re told:

The latest criminal charge relates to the efforts that the IRS has been making to collect from Kent Hovind. Real property in Pensacola had been forfeited to the government. In 2012, there was an injunction against Creation Science Evangelism and its representative and agents from seeking to file liens on the forfeited property. Nonetheless, a lien was filed – a lis pendens.

Forbes provides this link to a four-page government pleading dated 08 July 2014. The feds want to hold him in contempt for violating an earlier injunction that prevented him and his organization from interfering with the feds’ sale of his theme park, which sale was to pay for his tax liabilities. That lis pendens thing was apparently such an interference. Back to the Forbes article:

Is This Piling On? I’m inclined to think it is. Being in prison and all it’s not like Kent could have gone down to the court house himself to file the thing.

True, but he might have mailed it. We’re not told who signed it. Anyway, the injunction doesn’t seem to have been directed at Hovind alone, but his entire organization. Somebody filed that lis pendens to interfere with the government’s sale, and the government is holding Hovind responsible. They say he did it.

Forbes provides this link to Hovind’s three-page response. The substance is all on the first page. He claims that the government is “retaliating” against him, and besides that, he hasn’t been properly notified about what the feds are doing. Then Forbes says:

Having Kent Hovind do more time for having something filed that did not do him any good seems to be a poor use of government resources. If he has a jury trial and is acquitted, which strikes me as a distinct possibility, it will be trumpeted as a major victory in the tax protester community. (Note Kent Hovind does not consider himself a tax protester). If he is convicted and sentenced to serve more time, he will be viewed as a martyr.

Tax protesters never think they’re tax protesters. They always imagine themselves to be patriots. Not only that, but they think the judges are idiots, while they and the other tax protesters are the only ones who understand what the law really means. See Creationists and Tax Protesters. As for martyrdom, it’s only creationists who will see Hovind as a martyr. They already think that. Besides, who cares what they think? And now we come to the end:

Either way I don’t see this effort as encouraging people to be more tax compliant, which is really the point of criminal prosecution.

It looks to us as if the latest contempt proceeding is aimed at encouraging people not to violate injunctions issued by federal courts. No matter what happens, it won’t have any effect on either creationists or tax protestors. They live in their own version of reality.

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

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Creationist Wisdom #452: Preacher in Fiji

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Fiji Times, a daily English-language newspaper published in Suva, the capital of the Republic of Fiji, a country comprised of more than 332 islands located northeast of New Zealand. The letter is titled: Did we come from monkeys?

We don’t like to embarrass people (unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures), so we usually omit the writer’s full name and city. But there’s no problem with this one. The letter-writer is Pastor Kory Mears of the Nausori Baptist Church. We’ll give you a few excerpts from the rev’s letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

In 1859 with the publication of the famous book Origin of the Species Charles Darwin would forever change the way our modern world looked at the issue of origins. His theory concluded that the biblical account of creation was false, that there was no intelligent designer, and that our universe and life was nothing more than a series of accidental mutations over billions of years.

You see, dear reader, why it’s so important to read these letters. Where else would you learn that Darwin’s book was titled Origin of the Species? And you probably didn’t know that it was also about the origin of the universe. Then we’re told:

Christians who still believe in the biblical account of creation are often accused of “ignoring scientific evidence” and accepting creation with “blind faith”. But this statement is simply not true. In fact, there is a growing body of scientists, both Christian and non-Christian, who have found the theory of evolution to have gaping holes and scientifically impossible explanations that require a huge amount of “blind faith”.

Wow — evolution has “gaping holes” and “scientifically impossible explanations” that require a huge amount of “blind faith.” Compared to that, creationism looks pretty good! Let’s read on:

One of the many “giant leaps” proposed by evolutionists is that living matter spontaneously evolved from non living matter. Their theory is that at some point in the distant past, there was no life on Earth just non living matter. It is hypothesised [sic] that there existed on Earth a “primordial soup” with just the right chemicals and atmospheric conditions and that life was “spontaneously generated”

Well, it’s not quite that big a leap. Abiogenesis — we don’t like that term, but it seems here to stay — suggests that the process began with the perfectly natural appearance of self-replicating molecules, which, by their nature, became abundant, and things gradually progressed from there. We continue:

Mind you, no scientist has ever been able to prove this theory by experiment or observation in a laboratory. We are just told to “accept it” with no evidence. Sounds like blind faith!

Blind faith? Egad — we can’t have any of that, can we, Rev?

Then the rev spends a few paragraphs lovingly telling about the views of Fredrick Hoyle, who is esteemed by creationists for his Junkyard tornado argument. The rev claims, quite correctly, that the spontaneous generation of just a single amoeba is wildly improbable, and from that he assumes that life couldn’t have begun by any natural process.

Then the rev tells us how much data can be stored in a strand of DNA, and he says:

The odds that DNA spontaneously generated with that level of complexity is so ridiculous that it is virtually impossible. But those are just the odds of spontaneous generation. Add to that, the odds that trillions of accidental mutations over time would give us the amazingly complex living systems of today, and you are really living on “blind faith”.

The rev is refuting the imaginary Theory of Spontaneous Assembly of Very Complex Molecules from Start to Finish from Utterly Isolated Atoms (TSAVCMSFUIA). That’s included in our Compendium of Curmudgeonly Concepts. Even that’s not the rev’s biggest objection to evolution. Here’s more:

But what is so significant is that if the theory of evolution is true, then the Bible cannot be true. The book of Genesis, which gives us God’s account of the creation of the universe, the earth, living matter and mankind, would all be false if the theory of evolution is true.

We can’t allow that! Moving along:

The theory of evolution has been responsible for a massive decline in morality in the world. Once you convince a society that there is no God, that all religion is fiction or a coping mechanism, you also destroy the basis for morality.

That explains why Darwin was such a savage brute. The final few paragraphs of the rev’s letter are a promotion of something called the Creation Science Conference, where:

You will be presented with evidence that reveals a wise, intelligent creator is responsible for the grandeur of the universe, not some unexplainable “Big Bang.”

We’re not told where that wonderful conference will be. But even if you have to fly to Fiji, it’ll be worth it. Great letter, Rev!

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

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