TODAY’S EXAMPLE comes from California’s North County Times, which has provided us with much amusement in the past. The community served by that news organ seems to be an asylum for creationists. The specimen we’re reading from is the last one in their “Letters” section: Teaching creation has its merits.
As is our custom with such matters, we’ll copy the letter in its entirety, omitting only the writer’s name and city. We may add a bit of bold — and sometimes color — for emphasis. We’ll also add our own commentary between the quoted paragraphs. Here it is:
Last spring, Ben Stein’s “Expelled —- No Intelligence Allowed” hit the big screen, and evolutionists, most of whom never saw it, said it was false.
It “hit the big screen” all right — like something you might sneeze onto your computer monitor. Then, for lack of public support, it oozed down in per-theater box-office results. It is no longer on “the big screen,” which is no loss to anyone — except the film’s creationist backers.
Stein’s premise, backed up with ample evidence, was that belief in Darwin’s theory was required by the evolutionary establishment if you want to keep a teaching job or work for a museum or other scientific institution. Evolutionists claimed that Stein didn’t know what he was talking about and that such discrimination didn’t exist.
Tenured creationists, like Michael Behe, have no trouble keeping their jobs. But life in academia for those without tenure is very competitive. An understanding of evolution is as essential to a career in biology as an understanding of the heliocentric solar system is for a career in astronomy. An astrologer who clings to geocentrism may complain about “discrimination” when it keeps him from a tenured position on the astronomy faculty of a university, but astrologers are known for saying silly things — as are creationists. More:
Now comes Kenneth Ray [presumably some previous letter-writer] proving that Ben Stein was right. Mr. Ray wrote, “Parents, if you want your children to work in the rapidly expanding future biotech sectors, make sure their schools train them in evolution. Those whose only training is creationism need not apply.”
Again, we are dealing with a creationist’s definition of “discrimination.” It’s quite true that the bio-technology industry doesn’t bother with creation “science.” That’s not prejudice, it’s the pursuit of profitability. If creation “science” had anything of value to offer, its advocates would be actively recruited. But because their “science” is worthless to industry, they must eek out a living as creationist public relations flacks, “science” teachers at bible colleges, and writing books that compete for shelf-space with such worthy titles as: “I Was Serially Probed by Bigfoot!”
Mr. Ray also wrote that creation has not produced any scientific knowledge or any useful medical cure. Apparently he has never heard of Louis Pasteur, Isaac Newton or Frances Redi, all of whom made major breakthroughs based on creationism principles.
Everyone before Darwin was a creationist, so mentioning Isaac Newton’s name as if he supported contemporary creationist thinking is meaningless. Newton’s work on gravity, the laws of motion, etc. has nothing to do with “creationism principles.” Frances Redi is a new name for us. We had to really hunt around before realizing that the letter-writer probably meant Francesco Redi. He did some work in the 1660s (Darwin published Origin of Species in 1859) on the idea then called spontaneous generation, that maggots and other pests simply sprang forth from food, like Athena from the forehead of Zeus. It was Pasteur who finally demonstrated that sealing food from airborne contamination would end the supposed “spontaneous generation” of mold and such. This has nothing to do with Darwin’s theory of evolution or with the ultimate origin of living things, but creationists often imagine that it is evidence for their beliefs. Continuing:
Also, Karl Popper, who originated falsifiability as a scientific criterion, wrote: “Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research program.”
This guy likes to drop names. The claim about Popper is classic creationist quote mining, a dishonest technique which is rampant in the world of creationism, including intelligent design creationism. It’s true — Popper once said that, but he later changed his mind, quite publicly, and he offers no comfort whatsoever to creationists. See: Karl Popper — Issue of Darwinism. The letter ends with this:
Finally, Rudolph Virchow proved the creation principle that “every cell originates from another cell.” He is also credited with exposing the hoax that Neanderthal man was an ape-to-man transition.
[Name and city omitted]
As for the letter-writer’s tortured understanding of the Neanderthal, we have already spent far more time on his letter than we intended, so we are leaving the refutation of his Neanderthal claims as an exercise for you, dear reader. Here’s a place to start: The Neanderthal Mystery.
Imagine being involved in a live debate with someone like this letter-writer. The audience would be loaded with his followers. He’d spew out his “facts” in rapid-fire fashion, you’d have no time to rebut more than one or two items, the audience would be wildly cheering for their champion, and the press — who know nothing — would report that the “Darwinist” was unable to refute the alternate “theory.” Teach the controversy!