Ken Ham and the Bombardier Beetle

The Bombardier beetle has been a long-time favorite of creationists. All the usual websites have articles about the critters. Now it’s the turn of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia. Ol’ Hambo is famed not only for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG), but also for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum, and for building Ark Encounter, an exact replica of Noah’s Ark.

Hambo just posted this at his blog: Bombardier Beetles and Vomiting Toads. You gotta admit, that’s one of his most alluring titles. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

For most insects, getting eaten is the end — but not for the remarkable bombardier beetle. These little beetles are often discussed in creation literature because of their incredible design features, including the ability to shoot a boiling, noxious gas so they can escape predators.

Yes, they’re a marvel of design. Or are they? The TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims debunks the claim that they couldn’t have evolved. But they can’t fool ol’ Hambo — the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. He says:

But, according to new research [at Fox News: Study finds beetle has hugely disgusting survival mechanism], the bombardier beetle has another trick.

Hambo describes the research for us:

Researchers in Japan fed bombardier beetles to toads to see what would happen. Well, nearly half of the toads puked up the beetles anywhere from 12 to 107 minutes after ingesting them.

Isn’t this great? Hambo continues:

The hardy little beetles scurried off, apparently unharmed. It turns out that the bombardier beetle can release a nasty chemical cocktail inside the toad’s stomach (the audible “pop” of the explosion could be heard coming from inside the toad’s stomach), forcing it to vomit up their meal. The beetle is also protected by a hard shell that keeps it safe from stomach acid.

Verily, they are wondrously designed! Hambo then explains what we should learn from this:

These little beetles are an incredible example of God’s careful design in creation. But they also remind us we live in a sin-cursed world where predators eat prey and prey must try to escape. It’s a beautiful world, but it’s also a broken world, and we see both on display in the bombardier beetle.

Ooooooooooooh! Hambo is so wise!

We know you want to learn more about beetles and toads, but the rest of Hambo’s post is all about promoting his various publications, podcasts, and websites, so this is where we’ll leave him. Now go forth, dear reader, and tell everyone The Truth.

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Miracles, the Enlightenment, & School Shootings

Almost two weeks ago we wrote about Steven Pinker’s Book on the Enlightenment, which appears to be a splendid book. Pinker said:

If there’s anything the Enlightenment thinkers had in common, it was an insistence that we energetically apply the standard of reason to understanding our world, and not fall back on generators of delusion like faith, dogma, revelation, authority, charisma, mysticism, divination, visions, gut feelings or the hermeneutic parsing of sacred texts.

We knew it was inevitable that we’d see creationist criticism springing up, and we found some at the website Christian Today, which describes itself as “an independent Christian media company,” located in London. Their headline is Answering atheist Steven Pinker on the Florida shooting: Where was the ‘benevolent shepherd’ God?, and they have no comments section. It was written by Mark Woods, described as “a Baptist minister and Managing Editor of Christian Today.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Steven Pinker is a scientist and public intellectual, provocative, informed and informative. He is resolutely atheist, but not of the ‘religion poisons everything’ variety; he thinks institutional religion – while based on an entirely false premise – can evolve and be a force for good. Where he draws the line, however, is the believer’s conviction that there is a God who intervenes in the world. Like Scotty from Star Trek, he thinks you cannot change the laws of physics. Even if there were a God, there are no miracles: the world is as it is, and that’s that.

You know what’s coming. Rev Woods is going to explain that Pinker is wrong, because miracles really do occur. He says:

And in an interview with Hugh Hewitt for MSNBC, one of the arguments he puts forward to justify that is the Florida shooting, which he says casts doubt on ‘the idea that there is a benevolent shepherd who looks out for human welfare. What was the benevolent shepherd doing in Florida while the teenager was massacring his classmates?

It’s the old Problem of evil — described by Wikipedia as “the question of how to reconcile the existence of evil with an omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent God.” The rev tells us:

There’s a challenge here for Christians on two levels. One is his fundamental question about whether God intervenes at all – whether there are miracles. The other is whether the Florida massacre is a knock-down argument in his favour. Most Christians would answer the first with, ‘Of course he does.’ The Bible is full of miracles. We pray constantly for people and situations that trouble us, and we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t think it ‘worked’. But Pinker’s line is that the more we find out about the world, the less we need to call on the miraculous to account for what’s going on. So is there room for an interventionist God in a scientifically sophisticated world?

How does the rev resolve this problem? He cites David Wilkinson.whom Wikipedia describes as “a British Methodist minister, theologian, astrophysicist and academic.” According to the rev, Wilkinson says:

[T]he problem with the idea that the physical world runs on rails and is in principle completely predictable is that it’s based on out of date science – a mechanistic, Newtonian view of the world in which cause and effect can be plotted exactly. But that’s not how the world works. Quantum theory tells us that the small-scale structure of the world is, as Polkinghorne puts it, ‘radically random’: ‘It is a world that is unpicturable, uncertain, and in which the cause of events cannot be fully specified,’ says Wilkinson. There’s room for God to act because the system isn’t closed; he can push electrons around and alter the course of events in the world without breaking any of the laws of nature. Quantum theory doesn’t answer all our questions, Wilkinson says cautiously, but it ‘may be one dimension of how God works in the world’.

Ooooooooooooh! Quantum mechanics! Well, the behavior of matter at the subatomic level is indeed unpredictable, but that doesn’t mean an office building downtown will suddenly vanish and then appear in your back yard. The world at the macroscopic level is entirely predictable by the laws of physics. But the rev disagrees:

This means that at the macro level as well as the micro, the idea that the world is fixed and predictable is just wrong, and that arguments against an interventionist God don’t work. So, Wilkinson says, chaos might give ‘space for God to work in unusual and specific ways within the scientific description of the world’.

Great argument! The rev continues:

It’s not outdated and foolish to believe in an interventionist God. But what about Florida? Why, if God can intervene, did he not do so last Wednesday … ?

[…]

We know why bad things happen: it’s because God gives human beings freedom to do them – and freedom to do good things, too. The Florida shooting doesn’t mean God doesn’t exist, or that if he exists he can’t intervene. It means – and this is a hard thing to hear, but it’s the only thing a Christian can say – that he has chosen not to.

Egad — why? Rev Woods finishes his column with this:

Can the Florida massacre become a catalyst for changing US gun laws? Perhaps – and if, alongside costly personal ministry to survivors and their families, Christians can become lead voices in challenging a toxic firearms culture, that might be a better answer to Steven Pinker than reams of intellectual argument.

So there you are. Miracles really do happen, and the recent Florida school shootings were part of the divine plan to change gun laws in the US. Phooey on the Enlightenment!

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Another Indescribable Discoveroid Post

Vomit

Your Curmudgeon is experiencing a bit of a linguistic crisis. Whenever the Discovery Institute promotes their crude propaganda alleging a linkage between Darwin and communism, Stalinism, or Lysenkoism, we always use a strong adjectives to express our revulsion. See, for example: Discovery Institute: Beyond Despicable from over five years ago where we said:

How many synonyms for duplicity are there? For misdirection? For excrement? Were you to list them all, you wouldn’t have begun to describe this thing.

Then, in Klinghoffer: Evolution = Communism, we said it was “one of the worst things we’ve ever seen at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog” and a “ghastly post.” Recently we wrote Discoveroid Post Beyond Description, which we said was a “ghastly ark-load of ordure” and wrote:

We’ve been tracking the rantings of the Discovery Institute for quite some time now, but today they posted what must be their all-time worst — in our humble opinion, of course. Imagine having a mile-high load of camel dung dumped on your home. That would be infinitely preferable to what we found today at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog.

That one was about what they called “Darwinian Lysenkoism.” We quoted the Wikipedia article on Trofim Lysenko which says:

Lysenko was a strong proponent of soft inheritance [Inheritance of acquired characteristics] and rejected Mendelian genetics in favor of pseudoscientific ideas termed Lysenkoism. … Lysenko did not believe that genes or DNA existed, and only spoke about them to say that they did not exist. …. Unable to silence Western critics, Lysenko tried to eliminate all dissent within the Soviet Union. Scientists who refused to renounce genetics found themselves at the mercy of the secret police. The lucky ones simply got dismissed from their posts and were left destitute. Hundreds if not thousands of others were rounded up and dumped into prisons or psychiatric hospitals.

Today they’re doing it again. This now appears at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog: American Lysenkoism, and the Darwinists Who Embrace It. It has no author’s byline, and fortunately, it’s brief. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

On a new episode of ID the Future, Tod Butterfield interviews Michael Egnor, pediatric neurosurgeon at Stony Brook University, about the science-destroying practice of Lysenkoism. Dr. Egnor discusses Trofim Lysenko, a Soviet agronomist who for several decades in the 20th century was allowed to use the power of the state to enforce belief in Lamarckism in the Soviet Union.

You know what’s coming. Let’s read on:

The government punished people who questioned the reigning view, and the results were catastrophic. Today the term Lysenkoism applies to any use of government power to enforce scientific orthodoxy.

Actually, we think it’s only the Discoveroids who use that term in an attempt to explain the failure of intelligent design to gain a foothold in academia. Their post continues:

It need not mean the Gulag; it could involve, for instance, the denial of federal grants to quietly enforce Darwinian orthodoxy.

Uh huh. And this is the end of their brief post:

Lysenkoism punishes dissenters from politically favored ideas, and holds science back. How? Download the podcast or listen to it here [link omitted], and find out.

So there you are — and as we said at the start, we’re all out of adjectives. What can be said about this kind of thing? A blizzard of bunk, a hailstorm of hooey, a hurricane of hogwash, a sandstorm of slander, a tornado of tripe? No, none of those is sufficient. Perhaps you can suggest something, dear reader. But beware of the profanity filters.

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Evolution Has No Morality

This is an argument we always see from creationists. It’s in the Murray Ledger & Times of Murray, Kentucky. Their headline asks a question: Why is wrong, wrong?, and they have a comments section. It was written by Jonnie Hutchison, one of their columnists. He’s also a preacher at the Green Plain church of Christ. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Is it wrong to commit murder? Is it wrong to “cheat” on one’s spouse? Is it wrong to lie, steal or to commit rape? Most of our readers would probably answer that all these things are wrong, but what makes them wrong? Are they wrong simply because society says they are wrong? Are they wrong because the law of our land identifies them as crimes? What if a society arose that approved of murder and made it legal, would murder no longer be morally wrong?

That’s a very old question, one which we’ve discussed it before. But where’s the creationist entertainment? Ah, here it comes:

If mankind is the product of organic evolution, why would it be wrong to commit murder? If we are simply a more evolved form of animal life, what would be the difference in killing a human being and killing a deer? Who could say that one is wrong while the other is right?

Evolution provides no guidance at all. But where does morality come from? The rev tells us:

When God created man, He instilled in man a sense of morality. This comes from the fact that God created man in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27). God is a moral being, and thus, man, made in God’s image, is a moral being.

Aha — that’s the answer! He continues:

Animals were not created in God’s image, thus have no sense of right and wrong. Animals may be trained to respond in certain ways, but they have no means of making moral decisions for they are not moral beings. Organic evolution has no legitimate explanation as to why man is a moral being and animals are not, but God gives us that answer.

Isn’t that wonderful? But wait a minute. In Creationism and Morality we mentioned Socrates’ Euthyphro dilemma — “Is what is moral commanded by the gods because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by the gods?”

How would the rev explain Abraham’s behavior when God announced His intention to exterminate the populations of Sodom and Gomorrah? Abraham objected and told God that it would be unjust to kill the good along with the rest. And what of Moses’ reaction when God announced His intention to exterminate the Hebrews because of the golden calf incident? Moses argued God out of doing it. And of course there’s the matter of the Flood. Was drowning almost the entire population of the world — including babies — the moral thing to do?

We’ve never seen a creationist answer Socrates’ question, and the rev doesn’t even consider it. Skipping a paragraph of bible quotes, we arrive at the end of his column. He says:

Because you are a moral being made in God’s image you are accountable to your Creator (2 Cor. 5:10). Choosing sin will result in eternal separation from God in hell while choosing to receive God’s forgiveness through the blood of Jesus will result in eternal life in heaven (Matthew 25:46). Wrong is wrong because God says it’s wrong Choose the right and live!

So there you are, dear reader. The rev says you should forget all about evolution if you want to lead a moral life. Otherwise … the Lake of Fire awaits.

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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