Category Archives: Science

Who’s Afraid of an Asteroid Strike?

Imagine that you’re watching one of those low-grade disaster movies. The plot is typical — a gigantic asteroid is headed toward the Earth, and some heroic characters are about to take off in a rocket, change the asteroid’s course, and save the Earth.

You’ve seen it before? We all have. Now let’s give it an extra twist. A mob of religious fanatics, led by a raving, wild-eyed preacher, is gathering outside the launch site to prevent the ship from blasting off. Why? Because the preacher says the ship’s mission is blasphemy. He also says that God will protect us; and if he doesn’t, we should accept what comes as the inevitable penalty for our sins. He and his drooling followers are ready for Judgment Day.

Then, at the preacher’s command, the religious lunatics storm the gate and begin throwing rocks and swinging clubs at the outnumbered spaceport guards. Will the ship launch? Will the brave astronauts be able to save the Earth? Or will the howling crazies succeed in blocking humanity’s only hope of survival?

Okay — freeze that. But keep it in mind as we take a look at the latest blog article from Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — 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.

Hambo’s latest is Will Asteroids Wipe Out Humanity? Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us, and Hambo’s scripture references omitted:

More than 100 “scientists, physicists, artists, astronauts and business leaders from 30 countries” have signed a declaration that seeks to “solve humanity’s greatest challenges to safeguard our families and quality of life on Earth in the future,” according to one of the signers of the declaration. The reason for this declaration is because, as one of the scientists backing the plan puts it, “The more we learn about asteroid impacts, the clearer it becomes that the human race has been living on borrowed time.”

Those who signed the declaration are concerned that a massive asteroid impact on Earth could be doomsday for mankind. So they are seeking for governments to work together because, as one of them says, “finding hazardous asteroids early through an accelerated search program is the key to preventing future destructive impacts.” The goal is for early detection of these asteroids so that there is enough advanced notice to use current technology to “deflect dangerous asteroids through kinetic impactors and gravity tractors,” according to a NASA astronaut.

This is pure nonsense to ol’ Hambo. He scoffs:

What fuels this fear that humanity is doomed to destruction by an asteroid, artificial intelligence, or some other catastrophe? Well, according to the starting point of those most concerned about humanity’s demise, life arrived here entirely naturalistically and Earth has existed for billions of years. There is nobody ordering, sustaining, or upholding the universe beyond the unfeeling laws of physics. There is even a popular dinosaur extinction proposal that claims the dinosaurs were wiped out by a massive asteroid impact. So if an asteroid destroyed much of life in the past, what is to stop it from doing it again?

But Hambo is a man without fear of such things. Let’s read on:

When you start with God’s Word instead of man’s word, you get an entirely different perspective on humanity’s future. According to the Bible, God is upholding the world by His powerful Word. We are not alone in this universe at the mercy of blind natural laws. Also, we do not need to fear a natural calamity wiping out mankind. Scripture tells us how humanity will end — when Jesus Christ returns to Earth in judgment.

So don’t worry about asteroids. Hambo continues:

Also, according to the biblical worldview, dinosaurs were not wiped out by an asteroid impact 65 million years ago. They were created on Day Six along with Adam and Eve. But many of them were buried in the global Flood of Noah’s day around 4,300 years ago. After the Flood, dinosaurs died out for the same reasons that many species go extinct each year … . They should remind us of God’s judgment on sin in the past and His coming judgment on sin in the future.

Not only are asteroids nothing to worry about, there isn’t anything to worry about. Hambo says:

[W]e do not need to fear man’s doomsday forecast about humanity’s future because we serve a God who sees the end from the beginning. This should give us peace and hope as we await His coming.

But what if Hambo’s wrong? No problem! There’s still nothing to worry about. Hambo has more good news:

And one last point to ponder. If there’s no God and life is just a result of naturalistic processes, then, as I said to Bill Nye during the debate, when people die they won’t even know they existed. So ultimately, if everyone died and all life were wiped out, why does it matter anyway? After all, from a naturalistic worldview life is ultimately meaningless and purposeless!

Okay, that’s enough. We now return you to that movie with the crazy people storming the launch pad. Hey — what made us think of that movie?

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

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Ken Ham: The Battle of Worldviews

A study was published a few months ago in Evolutionary & Developmental Biology — see The relative importance of religion and education on university students’ views of evolution in the Deep South and state science standards across the United States — confirming what most of us already suspected. The abstract says:

We found that the degree of religiosity mattered significantly more than education when predicting students’ understanding of evolution. When we focused on acceptance of evolution only, students taught evolution or neither evolution nor creationism in high school had significantly higher acceptance than those taught both evolution and creationism or just creationism. Science majors always outscored non-science majors, and not religious students significantly outperformed religious students. Highly religious students were more likely to reject evolution even though they understood that the scientific community accepted the theory of evolution.

[…]

Religiosity, rather than education, best explains views on evolution. In areas of the country where the vast majority of residents believe in God and the literal truth of the Bible, students may be hampered as they enter and progress through college. These same states tend to have lower state science standards and lower levels of educational attainment.

Nothing there is likely to surprise anyone, and ordinarily it wouldn’t even be worth mentioning. However, that paper came to the attention of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — 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.

As you might expect, ol’ Hambo is furious. Here’s his response: It’s a Battle Between Worldviews! We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us and Hambo’s bible references omitted. He actually links to the published paper and then he says:

A study conducted by a group of University of Alabama researchers has been making its way around the Internet, so I wanted to comment on it. This study highlights that the creation/evolution controversy is really a worldview-based battle.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We’ve heard that before. Yes, it’s the worldview of people who wrote down some Babylonian folk legends 3,000 years ago, contrasted to what we’ve learned about the world since the development of science.

The ancients weren’t stupid — indeed, their spiritual insights still fascinate us — but their knowledge of the world was limited to what they could see of their own region with their unaided eyes. They knew nothing of the Earth’s history and the universe beyond it. They were geo-centrics who believed the Earth was flat and stationary (see The Earth Is Flat! and The Earth Does Not Move!), and that a ladder (see Jacob’s Ladder) or a tower (see Tower of Babel) could reach up to heaven.

Like everyone else at the time, they did the best they could with the limited information available to them, and of course they got a lot of things wrong. But Hambo doesn’t think so. Let’s read on:

It’s really a matter of observational science vs. historical science. … Historical science deals with the past and therefore cannot be directly observed, repeated, or tested. What you believe about the past is going to influence how you interpret the evidence and what conclusions you reach about historical science.

[*Groan*] The false dichotomy between observational science vs. historical science. We’ve heard that before too. There’s a section on it in Common Creationist Claims Confuted. Hambo continues:

This study actually highlights that the battle is simply not a matter of helping people understand evolution or teaching people the supposed evidence for evolution. It’s a battle between two different worldviews. Students who are committed to the starting point that there is a Creator are going to interpret the evidence in a different manner than their evolutionary or atheistic professors. It’s not religion vs. science—it’s a battle between two different interpretations of the same evidence!

Right. If one begins with the unshakable opinion that the 3,000 year old misconceptions of the Babylonians are true, it will definitely cripple his ability to think about all the verifiable evidence that has been accumulated since then. Hambo describes this very clearly:

As Christians, our thinking on evolution and its counterpart, billions of years, needs to start with God’s Word. It’s God’s Word — not man’s ideas — that contains a true history of the universe.

He concludes by confirming that his faith in 3,000 year old scrolls is unshakable:

God was an eyewitness to creation and He told us how and when He did it in Genesis. Since God was there and He never lies, we can trust the account of history found in the Bible.

So there you are. It is indeed a battle of worldviews — verifiable reality vs. ancient guesswork and fantasy. The choice is yours, dear reader.

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

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Ken Ham vs Stephen Hawking, #3

Yes, as our title suggests, this is the third time we’ve chronicled an intellectual battle between Stephen Hawking, the renowned theoretical physicist, who — by the way, is “Steve” number 300 in Project Steve — and Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, famed for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG) and for the mind-boggling Creation Museum.

The first time this happened was Ken Ham Contradicts Stephen Hawking. After that there was Ken Ham Attacks Stephen Hawking. Hambo has decisively crushed Hawking before because he’s not only the holiest man in the world, the one who understands scripture better than anyone else, but he also knows more about biology, geology, and astronomy than all the world’s scientists put together, and he unquestionably knows more about physics than Hawking.

To prove it, we present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from Hambo’s latest essay, Will Artificial Intelligence Destroy Humanity?, which appears on his personal blog at the AIG website. The bold font was added by us, and we’ve omitted Hambo’s scripture references and quotes.

The reason ol’ Hambo is once again challenging Hawking is because of some remarks Hawking made during a BBC interview, reported here: Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind. Hawking said:

[Artificial intelligence (AI)] would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.

Hambo is outraged! He brings his awesome intellect and his mastery of science to bear as he criticizes Hawking. He says:

Hawking’s comments show the difference between starting your thinking with man’s word and starting your thinking with God’s Word. If we begin with man’s word that humans are the product of millions of years of slow evolution, then it makes sense that humans may someday be unable to evolve to keep up with AI. But if you start with God’s Word, you get a very different picture.

Hawking is such a fool! Let’s read on:

Man did not evolve, but was specially created in the image of God. We don’t need to fear AI wiping out humanity, because God upholds the universe and has already told us how humanity will end — in God’s time when His final judgment comes. We don’t need to fear man-made machines, but we do need to fear the God who judges.

How could Hawking be ignorant of such things? Hambo continues:

Although man is creating smarter machines (with intelligence still paling in comparison to human intelligence, and which had to be created by our intelligence), for all the AI we’ve made, no one has been able to create artificial life. That’s because life is a gift from God [scripture reference].

Here’s Hambo’s explanation of Hawking’s problem:

Stephen Hawking is so intelligent and yet for all that he rejects God. Romans chapter 1 tells us that atheists like Hawking know that God exists and yet they willfully chose to suppress the truth that they know because of their unrighteousness.

Ah, that explains so much! Moving along:

Sadly, Hawking’s body has problems because of the effects of sin, but he can have a perfect, new body and be with the Lord for eternity if he will receive the free gift of salvation. But he refuses to acknowledge Jesus as his Creator, Lord, and Savior.

As with Hambo’s previous put-downs of Hawking, this one is so total, so devastating, we predict that Hawking will be too humiliated to respond. In the past, he’s been so ungracious that he doesn’t even retract his previous remarks. If he’s true to form, he’ll behave that way yet again. Way to go, Hambo!

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

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Great Moments in Social Science

Your Curmudgeon is having a crisis of conscience. We try to keep this blog at a relatively elevated level, in keeping with our noble purpose of preserving the Enlightenment. But we just found something — very much off topic — about which we can’t resist blogging.

Here it is, at the website of something called CNSNews: $466,642 Federal Study: Why Do Fat Girls Date Less and Risk More? They say, with our bold font:

The National Institutes of Health has awarded $466,642 in taxpayer dollars to Magee-Women’s Research Institute and Foundation in Pittsburgh, Pa., to study and compare the intimate relationships of obese and non-obese girls.

Perhaps there is a legitimate purpose for blogging about this. We always defend the enterprise of science when it’s attacked by those who either hate it or who don’t understand it. But it’s only proper that when we discover some research that seems — how shall we put it? — ill-conceived, we should say so. It’s in that spirit that we continue with the CNS article. We’re told:

Mounting evidence [ahem!] demonstrates that weight influences intimate (i.e., dating and sexual) relationship formation and sexual negotiations among adolescent girls. Obese girls consistently report having fewer dating and sexual experiences, but more sexual risk behaviors (i.e., condom nonuse) once they are sexually active,” the grant abstract said.

Here’s the Project Information from the National Institute of Health. The “Public Health Relevance Statement” says:

Studies have consistently shown that obese adolescent girls engage in more sexual risk taking behaviors compared to non-obese girls. Few studies have examined the mechanisms underlying this association. Using secondary data analysis of data from two large, longitudinal cohorts of US adolescent girls, this application proposes to examine whether differences in the development of interpersonal social skills or differences in the intimate relationship experiences of obese and non-obese girls explains the higher rates of sexual risk taking among obese girls.

Verily, a worthy use of taxpayer funds. Back to the CNS story:

The goals of the project are “to (1) determine whether obese adolescent girls experience a delay in the development of peer and intimate relationship skills compared to non-obese adolescent girls; (2) compare the characteristics of intimate relationships among obese and non-obese adolescent girls; … and (5) compare the development of interpersonal skills and intimate relationship characteristics between obese and non-obese African American and White adolescent girls.”

One more excerpt:

CNSNews.com attempted to contact Aletha Akers, project leader for the grant, by email for comment, but no comment was provided before publication.

We searched around and found some information about the project leader at the website of the Magee-Womens Research Institute: Aletha Akers, MD, MPH.

We eagerly await the results of the study. You may as well use the comments section as an Intellectual Free Fire Zone. And please, let’s not have any insensitive humor about the study. The situation pretty much speaks for itself.

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

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