Monthly Archives: July 2008

Sixth International Conference on Creationism

HOW SHALL WE handle this one? We’ll play it straight. This news is from the website of Institute for Creation Research, or ICR. According to the Wikipedia article about them, which is here:

The ICR adopts the Bible as an inerrant and literal documentary of scientific and historical fact as well as religious and moral truths, and espouses a Young Earth creationist world view. It strongly rejects the science of evolutionary biology, which it views as a corrupting moral and social influence and threat to religious belief.

Their founder is Henry M. Morris. Wikipedia says that Morris is considered by many to be “the father of modern creation science.”

With that as background information, we want to inform you about the Sixth International Conference on Creationism (or ICC), of which ICR is a sponsor. According to the ICC’s website:

This premier scientific conference features original peer-reviewed papers and special evening presentations by the world’s leading creation science researchers and speakers …

Peer-reviewed creationist papers! That’s exciting, isn’t it? We know you’re all wondering — when is this event? And where? It’s August 3-7, 2008, in Pittsburgh. That’s next week, but there’s probably still time for you to make arrangements.

And check this out:

The following list represents a sample of the many excellent paper abstracts that have been accepted:
* Big Bang: Fact or Fiction?
* The Beginning of Human Life: Re-Evaluating the Biblical Evidence
* Relativistic String Dynamics Support Biblical Creationism
* The Origin of the Elements
* Electrodynamic Origin of the Force of Gravity
* Oceanic Circulation Trends … during Noah’s Flood
* Our Solar System: Balancing Biblical and Scientific Considerations

You can learn a lot of creation science at an event like this! But wait, there’s more:

What People Are Saying:
“The ICCs have been the premier creationist venue for dissemination of quality research, because of the high standards and the caliber of the contributors. Many major advances in building the Creation model have been reported at past ICCs. The fellowship and discussions over meals have aided ongoing research efforts. So this is a must-attend conference!”

“The ICC is the venue where creationist researchers report their progress to a live audience of their peers. The conference documents the advancement of the creationist model in verbal, hard-copy, and electronic forms. If you want to mingle with the movers and shakers of cutting-edge creationist research, Pittsburgh is the place to be in August of 2008.”

Okay now, let’s see a show of hands — how many of you will be going?

Anyone … anyone?

Copyright © 2008. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Creationist Evangelist in Vermont

WE RECENTLY reported about an Evolution Evangelist in Tennessee who had been traveling around with his wife for six years, living out of their van, and lecturing at various churches. It’s only fair that we balance things out with this article appearing in Vermont’s Bennington Banner: Creationist brings road show to local church.

Your Curmudgeon would like to give you some excerpts from the article, but that paper is owned by Media News Group, and they’re suing bloggers who excerpt their stories without permission. So you’ll have to click over there to read it for yourself.

Basically it’s about a hard-core creationist, Steve Grohman, who travels around with his wife, Dana, and their son, Paul. He spends full-time giving creation seminars. This has been going on for years.

He complains that scientists keep revising their estimates of the age of the universe. He also says that there was an additional layer of water above the atmosphere, and — get this! — that accounts for the long lifespans early in the Bible before the flood.

That’s just a sample. The article is full of insights like that. Isn’t creationism grand?

Copyright © 2008. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Bleeding Kansas: Pawn in the War for the Enlightenment

WHEN WE FIRST reported on the latest round of anti-evolution madness in Kansas, we learned that the lovely and brilliant Board of Education incumbent, Kathy Martin, was being challenged by Republican Bill Pannbacker. The August 5 Republican primary will decide which of them is going to run against Democrat Chris Renner in the November general election.

We also learned that Kathy was still a creationist, but her Republican challenger wasn’t; nor was their eventual Democrat opponent. See: Kathy Martin, Kansas Creationist, Up for Reelection.

At first glance, this may seem like small stuff, trivial local politics, boring school board elections — nothing to see here but some creationists making fools of themselves in the Kansas corn fields. But if you read our humble article through to the end, perhaps you’ll see that there is more going on here than an unimportant election over some one-room schoolhouses in the middle of nowhere. Much more.

In today’s Topeka Capital-Journal we read: Evolution hot campaign topic. Excerpts:

Ask Republican candidates for the Kansas State Board of Education about the issues they think are most important and you will hear about the teacher shortage or engaging students with vocational education.

On the campaign trail, however, many voters are using evolution as their litmus test. “Everybody wants to talk about evolution and creationism,” said Bill Pannbacker, a candidate for the District 6 seat.

That shouldn’t be surprising to Mr. Panbacker. After all, he’s challenging our dear Kathy, whom we came to cherish back in 2005 as the perfect symbol of ignorance. Continuing:

Off and on, evolution, creationism and now intelligent design have consumed the state school board for about a decade. The yo-yo control of the board — from the hands of conservative Republicans to moderate or liberal Republicans and Democrats — has kept the issue alive.

“Somebody called it the elephant in the room,” said Kathy Martin, an incumbent and Pannbacker’s opponent. “I don’t see that as ever completely being resolved.”

For once, we agree with Kathy. As long as she lives, she will never resolve the matter. But the voters in her district may resolve it for Kansas. More from the article:

As with each board election when five of 10 seats are up for grabs, power can easily shift hands. In 2005, a conservative-controlled state board pushed through state science standards critical of evolution and refused to limit the definition of science to a field that seeks natural explanations — a move decried by science associations. When elections shifted power into the hands of six moderate or liberal members, the board changed course.

That’s the recent history. Kansas was once played as a pawn of both sides in pre-Civil War national politics (see Bleeding Kansas), and now it has it become a pawn once again. But this time they’re being used as a pawn in a war between those who want to conserve the progress of the Enlightenment and those who want to cast that hard-won progress aside and embrace the darkness.

We regard the former — the pro-Enlightenment conservatives — as the true conservatives, the only ones who are worthy of that label. Their opponents — or shall we say the Adversary — are the false conservatives. Well, that’s our take on things.

This school board contest over Kathy’s seat is reaching a climax. The primary election is August 5, less than a week from now. It’s only local politics, and it may seem trivial, but the issues are large. Larger than the players know. So stay tuned, Curmudgeon fans!

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Discovery Institute: ID and Life on Mars

IT’S BECOMING increasingly painful to write about Casey Luskin’s articles which adorn the blog of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids). Perhaps it’s only our imagination, but it seems that the lad’s prose is growing increasingly tangled.

Nevertheless, we shall endeavor to skim through his latest offering: The Implications of the Hypothetical Discovery of Martian Life for Intelligent Design. Here are some excerpts:

I recently received an e-mail asking about the most recent Mars lander (Phoenix) and the implications for intelligent design (ID) if amino acids, proteins, or life were found on Mars. The person asked, “would this not mean that Neo darwinism is correct and that life occurs if you ”just add water’?

It’s a poorly-constructed question, and for all we know it was made up by Casey himself, but if it were sent by someone looking for answers, it’s about what we’d expect from a truly lost soul who would ask a Discoveroid for an opinion on anything. This is Casey’s response:

These are complex questions you ask, but a scientific “conclusion” is only as good as the starting assumptions that underlie the scientific reasoning involved in making that conclusion.

Casey probably doesn’t realize how much of his own intellectual chaos is revealed with that threshold statement. That is, if a creationist approaches a scientific issue with the starting assumption that the Genesis creation account is literally true in every minute detail, then of course this will affect his thinking. Regardless of evidence, he’ll end up where he began, with his pre-conceived notions dictating his conclusion.

Continuing with Casey’s answer:

First, you have to understand that most OOL [origin of life] researchers and astrobiologists assume that if life exists somewhere, then it must have evolved. … Of course the his [sic] entire chain of reasoning depends on the assumption that wherever life exists, it evolved.

That’s in contrast to the Discoveroid assumption that if life exists, it must have been the mysterious work of the Designer. No bias there. And just in case Casey’s prose is slippery enough to confuse you, bear in mind that evolution is a hard-won conclusion, the result of generations of research. It’s not a wild guess that is arbitrarily assumed as a premise. This is a vital distinction between the methodology of scientists and that of all non-scientific modes of thought.

Moving along:

Reasoning under similar assumptions, the entire basis for excitement about life on Mars is the assumption that if it does exist there, then it arose through blind natural processes, thus proving that life can arise naturally. Do you see some logical jumps there, perhaps even some circular reasoning?

We certainly see where Casey is going with this. In his “scientific” thinking, if life were found on Mars, it would be due to the Designer. After all, that’s his starting assumption — the Designer did everything. But if there’s no life on Mars, that’s because the Designer — blessed be He — singled out earth to be the unique focus of His handiwork. Heads or tails — either way the evidence goes — Casey claims he has the winning argument. You see, it’s all a matter of having the right starting assumptions.

You might think that’s the low point of Casey’s article, but it goes steeply downhill from there. He even dredges up the old “astronomically improbable” odds against the appearance of life.

If you want to wallow through the whole thing, go right ahead. As for your Curmudgeon, our position is this — just because Casey feels he’s capable of rationally discussing this topic, there’s no reason for us to suffer any further.

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