TODAY’S EXAMPLE is a letter to the editor appearing in the Burlington Free Press of Vermont, in which we read: Scientific defense of intelligent design.
Following recent custom, your Curmudgeon will politely insert this subtle signal [Aaaargh!!] after each howler so that we don’t interrupt the letter-writer’s learned discourse. We’ll also be adding Curmudgeonly commentary in between the letter-writer’s paragraphs. Otherwise, we’ll copy the letter in its entirety, omitting only the name and city of its author. Here we go:
One of the most basic laws of science is the Law of the Conservation of Energy [Aaaargh!!] : Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be changed from one form to another. The universe could not have created itself using natural processes [Aaaargh!!] because nature did not exist before the universe came into existence. Something beyond nature must have created all the energy and matter that is observable today. [Aaaargh!!]
The letter-writer is referring to the law of conservation of energy, but he’s tossing it around without comprehension. It’s the creationist version of name-dropping. Let’s read on:
The Second Law of Thermodynamics [Aaaargh!!] is often stated as the law of increasing entropy: “A natural process always takes place in such a direction as to cause an increase in the entropy of the universe.” (John Williams, “Modern Physics,” Page 210). The effect of this law is that unless there is a purposeful [Aaaargh!!] source of energy operating in a system, the various parts, molecules, etc., become less and less organized and more and more random. Thus the only means to maintain the theory of evolution in light of the Second Law of Thermodynamics is to conclude that, while chance combinations of simple molecules into very complex ones would be extremely rare, given enough time, it could happen. [Aaaargh!!]
That paragraph’s first sentence is wrong (it demands “purposeful” energy inputs), but even if true, it’s unrelated to the paragraph’s conclusion. We continue:
The Earth is the only planet orbiting the sun on which known life exists. It’s 8,000 miles in diameter and is 93 million miles from the sun on average. If the distance were farther, all life would freeze [Aaaargh!!]. If it were closer, all life would burn up [Aaaargh!!]. It takes the Earth 365 days, 6 hours, 49 minutes and 9.54 seconds to make one trip around the sun, and that is consistent to over a thousandth of a second [Aaaargh!!]. If the Earth traveled faster in its orbit, the distance from the sun would increase, and if it traveled slower, the distance would decrease, again, with deadly results [Aaaargh!!]. If the Earth rotated just a little slower on its axis, we’d freeze to death at night and fry during the day [Aaaargh!!].
So many errors, so little time. The length of a year is variable, as is the length of a day, and our speed around the sun varies throughout the year as we move in our elliptical orbit. See: Variation in the length of the year and the day.
Aside from all the letter-writer’s errors, his recitation of minutia is irrelevant. All he needed to say is the obvious fact that the earth is in the right place to allow liquid water to exist. Were it otherwise, we wouldn’t be here. But what of it? Now, if we lived on Mercury, that would indeed be a miraculous state of affairs. But it’s hardly surprising that we live on earth.
If the moon was larger or nearer the Earth, the resulting tides would overflow the lowlands and erode the mountains [Aaaargh!!]. If this erosion leveled the land masses, water would cover all land to a depth of over a mile [Aaaargh!!].
The moon’s distance from the earth is gradually increasing. See: Moon: Orbit and relationship to Earth.
We’re going to skip the letter-writer’s next paragraph, as it’s just data he’s copied from somewhere, and like the “facts” in all the earlier paragraphs, it doesn’t support his brilliant conclusion, which is:
From my point of view, given all the wonder that I’ve only touched upon in the above paragraphs, it takes far greater faith to believe this all “happened” than to believe in intelligent design or creation [Aaaargh!!].
Right. It’s all a miracle. Moving along:
A Gallup poll released Feb. 11 shows that 39 percent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution, 36 percent don’t have an opinion, and 25 percent believe in intelligent design [Aaaargh!!].
That’s certainly impressive. Here’s another excerpt:
There are many scientists on both sides of this discussion [Aaaargh!!]. Those who support intelligent design do so as a result of their review of the evidence, not out of ignorance [Aaaargh!!]. They hold intelligent design as a scientific theory [Aaaargh!!] and conclude that, based on their analysis of natural objects, the complexity of the structures and the specific information they contain could only result from design, not chance [Aaaargh!!].
And now, here’s the letter’s final paragraph:
Consider DNA, the complexity of the human body, any one of its systems, even something as “simple” as one’s eye [Aaaargh!!]. Check out http://www.icr.org [Aaaargh!!] or http://www.creationism.org [Aaaargh!!] for scientific defense [Aaaargh!!]
[Writer’s name and city can be seen in the original.]
That long, tedious, error-riddled letter boils down to this: We’re here, therefore Intelligent Design!
Aren’t you impressed?
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