Monthly Archives: August 2009

Creationism and the Uranus Connection

AS we write this, we are headquartered in the secret underground control room of the CITADEL — the Curmudgeonly Institute for Tactics, Advocacy, and Defense of the Enlightenment Legacy — the global nerve center for monitoring events throughout the Creosphere which threaten the values of Western Civilization.

In our never-ending effort to comprehend the mindset of creationists, it occurred to us that they are so far beyond our understanding that their wisdom is not of this Earth. It could only have come from an off-planet source, which we have discovered is the Seventh Planet of our solar system.

Our scientists have been feverishly at work to develop further applications of our super-secret technology known as the BozoProbe™. The only previous usages were described here: The Brain of Ronda Storms and here: Intelligent Design and Swine Flu.

But now we can announce that — thanks to the work of agent “Rades” — the technology has been vastly improved and it’s been successfully deployed again. We have intercepted the extra-terrestrial source of what now appears as an internet posting at the site of Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of creationist wisdom.

AIG has this notice posted at their website: Answers in Genesis Conference. It’s about a two-day conference scheduled for Saturday, September 12 through Sunday, September 13, 2009.

This event will be held at the Real Life Christian Church in Clermont, Florida, which is near Orlando, but located within that blessed region we’ve been calling the Florida Ark (defined here). The host church has its own tastefully-designed website, and there’s a convenient map at the AIG site.

What’s scheduled for this conference? The AIG posting informs us that Ken Ham, the founder of AIG, will be giving three — count ’em, three! — separate presentations of a speech titled “The Relevance of Genesis in Today`s World.” You probably should attend all three sessions. Additionally, ol’ Hambo will be giving another speech titled: “Defending the Christian Faith,” and then he’ll give yet another: “Answers for the Most asked Questions about Creation, Evolution and Genesis.” You won’t want to miss any of this.

When we contemplate the far-away source of the wisdom that will be presented, we can only begin to imagine the heavenly delight that creationists experience from their other-worldly contacts. We rejoice in the good fortune of those who have been selected to be at the receiving end of the Uranus hotline. It is difficult to comprehend the joy they experience upon becoming devotees of their Uranus Overlords.

The closest that people like us can ever come to their ecstasy is to attend conferences like the one described above. So get on down to Florida, and soak up the wisdom from Uranus.

Remember the creationists’ motto: “If it comes from Uranus, it’s good!”

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Evolution, Creationism, and Free Enterprise

James Murdoch, the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, has been getting a lot of press coverage in the UK lately for his recent remarks that the British government has allowed the BBC to become dominant to the point where it’s threatening independent journalism. In doing so, he has invoked the conflict of evolution versus creationism to describe the economic struggle.

We’ve previously discussed the theory of evolution in connection with free-market economics. For example, see: Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand and Charles Darwin’s Natural Selection. This too: Economics, Intelligent Design, and Evolution.

It is pleasing, therefore, to see the same ideas being expressed elsewhere. The Adam Smith Institute is a UK think tank that seems to have had some influence on the thinking of Margaret Thatcher. At their website they have this article: Evolution and creationism, which is about James Murdoch’s speech. The speech itself is well-worth reading, for example:

It argued that the most dramatic evolutionary changes can occur through an entirely natural process. Darwin proved that evolution is unmanaged. These views were an enormous challenge to Victorian religious orthodoxy. They remain a provocation to many people today. The number who reject Darwin and cling to the concept of creationism is substantial. And it crops up in some surprising places.

For example, right here in the broadcasting sector in the UK.

The consensus appears to be that creationism — the belief in a managed process with an omniscient authority — is the only way to achieve successful outcomes. There is general agreement that the natural operation of the market is inadequate, and that a better outcome can be achieved through the wisdom and activity of governments and regulators.

We’ll let you click over there to enjoy that on your own. Here are some excerpts from the Adam Smith Institute’s article, with bold added by us:

As in so many things the confusion over beliefs is more extreme in the US than the UK but it still exists here. Creationism itself is more associated with sects on the right, even while such loudly abhor government planning of the economy. But those who are most strident in their insistence that the natural world is simply a result of random chance filtered thought survival of the fittest also seem to be those who insist that the economy is not such.

Exactly! We’ve mentioned this intellectual inconsistency before. See: Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Barack Obama. Let’s read on:

All of which is really rather puzzling. It would seem logical that believing that one huge, chaotic and extraordinarily complex system has arisen without planning would lead on to the acceptance that if it can happen once it can happen twice. If humans are simply the result of competition in spreading gametes for 4 billion years, then it should be easier to accept that an economy is a result of similar if subtly different competition.

This has been strikingly obvious to us, but we’re always amazed that so many science types just don’t get it. We continue:

Yet, as above, it just doesn’t quite seem to work out that way. Perhaps it is just that the human brain is uncomfortable with quite so much randomness: if we are planned to be here than we can accept the random nature of the world, while if we are randomly here then there must be planned order in the world?

Never underestimate the ability of the people to entertain two contradictory notions at the same time. Here’s the end:

Or perhaps it’s that those who accept both Darwin (correctly) and planning (incorrectly) are not quite so free of religious desires as they think themselves to be. There still needs to be a caste to protect them from the vagaries of the universe, to intercede against randomness, but they’ll term them planners instead of priests?

Well said! We applaud the Adam Smith Institute for the same reason we applaud Darwin’s theory of evolution — both promote ideas that are supported by the evidence of the real world. Therefore, we shall never tire of pointing out that free enterprise and unguided Darwinian evolution are entirely compatible. Acceptance of one should lead to acceptance the other.

Alas, it doesn’t often work out like that. Life is strange.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Kansas City: Evolution T-Shirts Banned

EVERYONE remembers the Kansas evolution hearings. As we all knew back then, the whole state is drenched with insanity, and that kind of deep madness doesn’t fade away — in fact, it spreads. Kansas City, Missouri straddles the border between Missouri and Kansas, but they’ve got the Kansas name and they’re on the border, so they’re afflicted with creationism too.

In the Kansas City Star of Kansas City, Missouri we read High school marching band can’t wear evolutionary T-shirts. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

T-shirts worn by the Smith-Cotton High School band have evolved into an issue among parents.

The shirts, which were designed to promote the band’s fall program, are light gray and feature an image of a monkey progressing through stages and eventually emerging as a man. Each figure holds a brass instrument. Several instruments decorate the background, and the words “Smith-Cotton High School Tiger Pride Marching Band” and “Brass Evolutions 2009” are emblazoned above and below the image.

There were no pictures provided with the news article, so we went hunting for them. Highly-evolved primate that we are, our hunt was successful. See: the band wearing the shirts and a close-up of the satanic garment.

Let’s read on:

Assistant band director Brian Kloppenburg said the shirts were designed by him, band director Jordan Summers and Main Street Logo. Kloppenburg said the shirts were intended to portray how brass instruments have evolved in music from the 1960s to modern day. Summers said they chose the evolution of man because it was “recognizable”.

Yeah, don’t try to play innocent with us. We know your deeper purpose, and it’s eeee-vil! We continue:

Although the shirts don’t directly violate the district’s dress code, Assistant Superintendent Brad Pollitt said complaints by parents made him take action. “I made the decision to have the band members turn the shirts in after several concerned parents brought the shirts to my attention,” Pollitt said.

Pollitt said the district was required by law to remain neutral on religion.

Truly a brilliant man. And a fair one too. Here’s more:

Band parent Sherry Melby, who is a teacher in the district, stands behind Pollitt’s decision. Melby said she associated the image on the T-shirt with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. “I was disappointed with the image on the shirt,” Melby said. “I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.”

Isn’t it great how parents will stand up for what’s right? Moving along:

On Friday afternoon after practice, band members piled the shirts on a table. Although most were apathetic about the shirts, others felt the drama was unwarranted.

“It’s not like we are saying God is bad,” sophomore band member Denyel Luke said. “We aren’t promoting evolution.”

Heaven forbid! Here’s one last excerpt:

High School junior Adam Tilley said he understood why the shirts were repossessed.

“I can see where the parents are coming from,” he said. “Evolution has always been controversial.” The 17-year-old trombone player said his parents didn’t care about the shirt because it was the name of the band’s show.

We say it’s good that those shirts were confiscated. If things had gone on much longer, the children would have been doomed.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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We Are All Mutants

AT the website of the Sanger Institute in the UK, “one of the leading genomics centres in the world,” we read: Measurement of mutation rate in humans by direct sequencing. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

An international team of 16 scientists today reports the first direct measurement of the general rate of genetic mutation at individual DNA letters in humans. The team sequenced the same piece of DNA – 10,000,000 or so letters or ‘nucleotides’ from the Y chromosome – from two men separated by 13 generations, and counted the number of differences. Among all these nucleotides, they found only four mutations.

But that was the result for one small piece from the Y chromosome. Let’s read on:

[T]he new research, published today in Current Biology, shows that … we all carry 100-200 new mutations in our DNA. This is equivalent to one mutation in each 15 to 30 million nucleotides. Fortunately, most of these are harmless and have no apparent effect on our health or appearance.

That’s a lot of mutations. We continue:

Team member Qiuju Wang recruited a family from China who had lived in the same village for centuries. The team studied two distant male-line relatives — separated by thirteen generations — whose common ancestor lived two hundred years ago.

To establish the rate of mutation, the team examined an area of the Y chromosome. The Y chromosome is unique in that, apart from rare mutations, it is passed unchanged from father to son; so mutations accumulate slowly over the generations.

It was convenient that the male line of family they studied was unbroken by … well, you know. One more excerpt:

Understanding mutation rates is key to many aspects of human evolution and medical research: mutation is the ultimate source of all our genetic variation and provides a molecular clock for measuring evolutionary timescales. Mutations can also lead directly to diseases like cancer. With better measurements of mutation rates, we could improve the calibration of the evolutionary clock, or test ways to reduce mutations, for example.

The molecular clock is a fascinating concept. Wikipedia says:

It is used to estimate the time of occurrence of events called speciation or radiation. The molecular data used for such calculations is usually nucleotide sequences for DNA or amino acid sequences for proteins. It is sometimes called a gene clock or evolutionary clock.

So there you are — 100 or 200 mutations for each of us, and that’s been going on for a long time.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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