Creationist Wisdom #591: Evolution Refuted

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Stroud News & Journal, a weekly tabloid published in Stroud in the county of Gloucestershire, England. It’s titled Why I don’t believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution. The newspaper has a comments section.

Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. But today we’ve got a preacher — at least we think he is. The letter’s byline is Graham Hobbs of the Minchinhampton Baptist Church, but the church’s website doesn’t mention him. Nevertheless, we’ll regard him as a preacher. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

After describing his childhood interest in geology the rev says:

The odd thing is that I am one of the minority of people who don’t believe in evolution.

That’s why we’re posting about your letter, rev. Please go on:

Before you think I am a mindless, unscientific fossil myself, I didn’t always think this way. I have a BSc [presumably a Bachelor of Science degree] in the subject and even taught it but, with honest analysis, things didn’t add up.

Ah, now it gets interesting:

I could argue against evolution scientifically but it would take a book, not a short article. Similarly I could argue theologically but, again, there isn’t the space.

Too bad we’ll never see the rev’s book. As for his theology argument, that would be irrelevant to science anyway. The letter continues:

I’ll just take one point. It’s this. Evolution depends on “the survival of the fittest”.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Darwin never used that phrase in his books. The principle mechanism in the theory of evolution is natural selection. Lots of unexceptional — but adequate — individuals can survive and procreate; however, those that are unable to do so will be naturally eliminated from the gene pool. What difference does the rev’s mistaken terminology make? Brace yourself, here it comes:

It works to some extent but it’s a blunt tool and its application regularly leads to places like Auschwitz or genocide of the sort we’ve seen in Rwanda or more recently the atrocities in Iraq and Syria.

Aaaargh!! Of all the species on Earth, only humans exhibit such behavior, and only when motivated by an irrational belief system. Here’s more:

The most successful person to have walked this earth didn’t live that way. Instead, Jesus was on the side of the weak, rejected, marginalised and least attractive people, usually life’s failures, not its successes.

We thought the rev wasn’t going to give us a theological argument. Ah well, moving along:

Unlike scientific theories, here is a truth that doesn’t change. In God’s eyes, our value doesn’t depend on our success, however we measure that concept.

Thr rev is correct — religion doesn’t change. It’s so much more dependable than science! And now we come to the end:

While evolution favours the successful, and writes off the unsuccessful, God values us whoever we are or whatever we have done. Can any of us be more of successful than that?

So there you are. The rev judges himself to be a success, and a living refutation of “the survival of the fittest”. Perhaps he’s right.

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The Discoveroids’ Fourth of July

Buffoon Award

In our last post, Fourth of July Weekend Free Fire Zone, we said:

One thing we always watch for is when the Discoveroids, as they usually do on the Fourth, continue their gruesome campaign of intellectual body-snatching and quote-mining by hijacking one of America’s Founders and claiming him as one of their own.

And lo, it has come to pass! We present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from Intelligent Design Is “Based on Religion”? Tell That to Thomas Jefferson, which appears at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog — written by John West. He’s a Vice President of the Discovery Institute, a Senior Fellow, and Associate Director of their creationism think tank, the Center for Science & Culture, which makes him one of the chief Keepers of their wedge strategy. Around here we affectionately call him “Westie,” and we always look forward to his output. Westie was an early winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award, thus the jolly logo above this post.

Here are some excerpts from Westie’s post. The bold font was added by us:

Next time someone tells you intelligent design is “based on religion,” you might point him to American Founder Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence. As I explain in a special July 4th edition of ID the Future, Jefferson not only believed in intelligent design, he insisted it was based on the plain evidence of nature, not religion: [link to something].

Aaaargh!! How many times before this have the Discoveroids made the bizarre claim that they are continuing the intellectual legacy of Jefferson? We’ve written about a few of them. In 2008 we wrote Usurping the Fourth of July. In 2009 we wrote Thomas Jefferson Joins The Discovery Institute!, and also Another July 4th Hijacking. But that’s not all. In 2013 we wrote Discoveroids Again Hijack the Fourth of July. In that one we discuss the mined quote from Jefferson’s letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823, which Westie mentions in today’s Discoveroid post.

Okay, let’s return to Westie’s latest. He says:

Ironically, the critics of intelligent design often think they are defending the principles of Jefferson. The National Council for the Social Studies, for example, claims that intelligent design is religion and then cites Jefferson’s famous Letter to the Danbury Baptists calling for a “wall of separation” between church and state. The clear implication is that Thomas Jefferson would agree with them that intelligent design is religion. In reality, Jefferson did not believe that intelligent design was a religious doctrine. In a letter to John Adams on April 11, 1823, he declared: [quote omitted].

We’ve already discussed that letter in a prior post. At most, Jefferson was groping toward what amounts to Paley’s watchmaker — which wasn’t altogether unreasonable in Jefferson’s generation. Let’s read on:

In sum, Jefferson believed that empirical data from nature itself proved intelligent design by showing the natural world’s intricate organization from the level of plants and insects all the way up to the revolution of the planets.

To know how Jefferson really thought, see Thomas Jefferson on Young-Earth Creationism. Westie continues:

As I document in my book The Politics of Revelation and Reason, Jefferson was hostile toward traditional Christianity and lashed out in private at those who believed in the divinity of Jesus. He even created his own redacted version of the New Testament from which he cut out the miracles. So he certainly can’t be accused of trying to promote “Christian fundamentalism.”

That’s true. Why does Westie mention it? He explains:

That makes his defense of intelligent design as based on unassisted reason rather than divine revelation all the more powerful.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Even if that were an accurate description of Jefferson’s thinking (it isn’t), there’s no way he would hold to that conclusion today, given what’s been learned since then about geology, evolution, and astronomy since he wrote that letter. Only creationists continue to hold fast to what may have seemed reasonable, albeit unscientific, conclusions in Jefferson’s time. And now we come to the end:

If more people knew about Jefferson’s real views on intelligent design, they might not be so quick to accept bogus claims that it is simply repackaged theology.

But as all the world knows, intelligent design is repackaged theology. Anyway, there you have it — another Discoveroid Fourth of July.

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Fourth of July Weekend Free Fire Zone

Liberty Enlightening the World

As we always do on this occasion, we ask our non-US readers to indulge us as we celebrate America’s Independence Day.

There wasn’t much news today, and there won’t be much over the weekend, but if we find something, we’ll certainly post about it. One thing we always watch for is when the Discoveroids, as they usually do on the Fourth, continue their gruesome campaign of intellectual body-snatching and quote-mining by hijacking one of America’s Founders and claiming him as one of their own. They did it last year with Jefferson when they wrote On Independence Day, Recalling the Intelligent-Design Views of the Man Who Wrote the Declaration of Independence. They did it the year before too — see Discoveroids Again Hijack the Fourth of July.

Regardless of what creationist websites may claim, there was nothing biblical about the Revolution. Most of the clergy opposed it — divine right of kings, you know. The bible is all about monarchy, on Earth as it is in heaven. It’s not much of a blueprint for the American Revolution, or the Constitution — see Is America a “Christian Nation”?

We always take this occasion to load you up with a bunch of historical links, so we’ll do that once again. Here’s a link to the Declaration of Independence, plus the Articles of Confederation, which — except for a few tweaks — was also drafted in July of 1776, but it wasn’t ratified until 1781. No collection would be complete without Common Sense by Thomas Paine.

Those links are about the Revolution. The time when we were living under the Articles is the often-neglected period when we had ten Presidents before George Washington — see President of the United States in Congress assembled. Finally we come to the Constitution.

Here’s the Federalist Papers — that splendid and still authoritative series of essays by the Constitution’s principal authors, who explain the meaning and purpose of its every clause. The website has a search feature at the bottom of the page. For some wholesome family amusement, invite someone over who insists that the nation was founded on religious principles. Encourage your friend to search through the entire thing for all the religious words he can think of, and then let him ponder the results.

After that, check out our post on Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and then our post on The Unknown Bill of Rights.

It’s astounding what you can find at Primary Documents in American History (1763-1815). And you ought to be aware of this: Veto of federal public works bill by James Madison, because pork barrel spending is unconstitutional. Hey –it’s always handy to have a link to Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. Searchable!

Because we’re not expecting any of our kind of news this weekend, it’s up to us to entertain ourselves. Therefore, we’re declaring another Intellectual Free-Fire Zone. As with all our free-fire zones, we’re open for the discussion of pretty much anything — science, politics, economics, whatever — as long as it’s tasteful and interesting. Banter, babble, bicker, bluster, blubber, blather, blab, blurt, burble, boast — say what you will. But avoid flame-wars and beware of the profanity filters.

We now throw open the comments to you, dear reader. Have at it.

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Republican Presidential Candidates & Creationism

This is a subject about which we need to keep updated, but it’s difficult to find all the information in one convenient place — although Salon posted this back in Frbruary: Evolution and the GOP’s 2016 candidates: A complete guide .

Wikipedia has an article on the Republican Party presidential candidates, 2016. It lists them all (so far), but it doesn’t give their positions on evolution and creationism. Some of them are already known to us.

Those who are definitely creationists are Ben Carson, Ted Cruz (almost definitely), Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio (probably), and Rick Santorum.

Those whose views we don’t yet know are Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Rand Paul, and Donald Trump.

John Kasich and Scott Walker have not yet declared their candidacy, and we’re not certain of their views either. But see Scott Walker Is a Creationist.

So your Curmudgeon is asking for help. If you know anything about the candidates’ views on evolution, and you can provide an authoritative link to your source of information, please let us know. There’s no need to bother with their views about climate change, same-sex marriage, immigration, or Obamacare. We’re pretty sure we already know.

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