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.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

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.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

Apollo 13 and Creationism: The Unknown Tale

The aborted 1970 lunar mission of Apollo 13 is well known. But what isn’t known is the role played by the creation scientists of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the granddaddy of all creationist outfits, the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom.

At the ICR website there’s a new and very illuminating article titled Conversion of a Rocket Man: Charles P. Morse. It’s about Charles Phillips Morse. We’re told he was “MIT-educated” and a “rocket scientist” and also a “devout evolutionist.” It’s written by his son, Charles C. “Chas” Morse. At the end of the article we’re given this description of the author: “Mr. Morse joined ICR in 2009, where he presently serves as Director of Church and Seminar Ministries.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy delivered a shocking speech before a special joint session of Congress describing his ambitious goal of sending Americans safely to the moon before the decade’s end. Little did Kennedy know that his space scheme was a cog in the Master’s plan to relocate my MIT-educated dad, with family in tow, to southern California to accomplish other purposes for His glory.

So that was the purpose of Kennedy’s announcement that we were going to land a man on the Moon! Now you know. But there’s more — much more:

As our nation raced toward space, God pursued rocket scientist and devout evolutionist Charles Morse. Through the ministries of godly men, my dad was confronted with his sin, realized his spiritually bankruptcy, and turned from his former life to trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross. But he still held to an evolutionary view of the world.

Still an evolutionist? That means he wasn’t completely saved. What happened then? Let’s read on:

After suffering broken ribs from a sudden fall, my father spent a week confined to bed. The newly converted Charles Morse decided to read through the entire Bible in one week.

At the same time, my dad was providentially introduced to Dr. Henry Morris’ work and read The Genesis Flood. Living in the area, it was convenient for him to drive to San Diego, where he met with Dr. Morris and other creation scientists. All his questions were answered, and his conundrums vanished!

How wonderful — the rocket scientist had become a creation scientist! He had been transformed into a worthy instrument for the space program. The tale continues:

After long days designing spacecraft engine parts and other rocket gizmos, my dad glued himself each night to his brown leather reading chair, studying science and researching answers to questions like “Where did the water come from in Noah’s Flood?” and “Where did the water go?

Isn’t this thrilling? By day, Morse designed rocket “gizmos,” and at night he studied creation science. The space program was fortunate indeed to have such a man on the team. Pay attention now, because here’s where the story gets really good:

Most people are all familiar with the macabre transmission from outer space “Houston, we have a problem.” With that, the breakdown of Apollo 13 effectively ended my dad’s lucrative engineering job and left him permanently unemployed.

That’s a bit ambiguous, but young Morse leaves us with the clear impression that his “Rocket Man” father was terminated because of the failure of Apollo 13. That near-catastrophe was thoroughly studied. Wikipedia describes NASA’s Accident analysis and response. We’ve scanned some of the footnoted reports, but we don’t see blame assigned to any specific individuals. We’ll have to accept young Morse’s claim that the Apollo 13 misadventure caused his father to be “permanently unemployed.” Moving along:

At that point, God took over and hired Charles Morse as a full-time creation speaker, debater, and researcher. The ex-rocket man was free to study, research, and prepare for speaking engagements while living off the seven years of plenty accrued during his Apollo heydays. My dad would sometimes attend conferences with Dr. Henry Morris and Dr. Duane Gish and toured throughout California speaking at churches, schools, and colleges.

Isn’t this inspiring? If we’re reading this correctly, Morse the elder was dismissed from the space program because he was held responsible (at least to some extent) for the Apollo 13 incident. But then, having been forged by misfortune and disgrace, he was at last ready to be promoted by the Lord to an even greater assignment — a full-time career in creation science. Here’s another excerpt:

Honestly, my dad was largely unknown in the creation movement, but he was not unknown to his Creator.

Our guess is that he wasn’t unknown to those who investigated the Apollo 13 mishap either. The article ends on a high note:

Although my dad didn’t formally publish, he unknowingly inscribed his passion for creation and why Genesis matters on the heart of his only son and namesake, Charles (Chas) Morse. Because of this and for the glory of our Creator, I count it a blessing and privilege to now serve on staff at the Institute for Creation Research.

So there you are, dear reader. Now you know the rest of the story of Apollo 13.

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

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

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.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article