Creationist Wisdom — Example 64

AS a special treat, dear reader, we bring you two — yes, two! — letters-to-the-editor, both of which appear in the Bowling Green Daily News, located in Bowling Green, Kentucky. These two letters are in response to an essay by Jim Gaines appearing in that same paper a week ago. Gaines criticized the Creation Museum run by Ken Ham.

You already know about the Creation Museum, a bible theme park pretending to be science. This is Gaines’ “offending” article: ‘Museum’ mangles facts, faith. Gaines is a reporter for tthe Bowling Green Daily News, and by our count he’s one of four people named Gaines on the staff of that publication. His job is probably secure.

The first of today’s letters, Jim Gaines column was simply wrong, requires no commentary from us. It’s so filled with wall to wall creationisms that we’ll just copy it in its entirety, omitting only the writer’s name and city. We will, however, add some bold font for emphasis:

This letter is in response to Jim Gaines’ column on the Creation Museum in Sunday’s paper.

I am not going to present an argument for creationism instead of evolution. If people truly want to know the truth, they can research it on their own. There is much scientific evidence out there in favor of creationism, and in fact the theory of evolution (note the word theory – it has still never been proven factual) is currently being refuted by many well-respected scientists.

Readers might want to rent the movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” with Ben Stein. I am writing to express my frustration at the way in which Gaines unapologetically mocks evangelical Christian beliefs.

His statements about our beliefs regarding creationism were often incomplete, inaccurate, totally misconstrued or at best misunderstood. I am an intelligent college graduate, a writer and editor, as well as a homeschooling mother of four.

And do you know what? I believe the Bible is complete and absolute truth. It is God’s Word, written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. You can think that makes me an idiot if you please. Gaines obviously does. But in our politically correct day and age, I find it hard to believe that he would feel comfortable writing and publishing anything so openly scornful against any other religious group of people.

It seems to me that the message of the day is tolerance; yet the very ones who preach it refuse to tolerate Christianity. “Ken Ham and his minions,” as Mr. Gaines put it, do not have to worry about “saving Christianity” or about making the Bible valuable. Christianity and the Bible have obviously stood the test of time.

Truth has a way of doing that, you know.

Not bad, huh? Well, hold on, because you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Here’s the second letter-to-the-editor, which is also in today’s edition of the Bowling Green Daily NewsGaines’ column was secular propoganda. For this one we’ll supply a bit of Curmudgeonly commentary between excerpted paragraphs. Here we go:

Jim Gaines is finally overt in his attempt to pervert the beliefs of the populace. Normally, one must read between the lines to get to his secular propaganda.

That’s an encouraging beginning. Let’s read on:

Being a scientist myself (professional engineer) and having read the works of Einstein and Carl Sagan, among others, I understand that it takes as much faith to believe in science as it does in intelligent design (God). Just as the “Big Bang theory” requires all the physical laws to be disregarded, evolution also is not internally consistent with probability, thermodynamics (irreversible processes and entropy) and methodology. Furthermore, it seems to me unethical for secular scientists to ostracize and censor those who do not fit the secular mold.

That’s quite a paragraph! This “scientist-engineer” is, we suspect, intellectually unqualified even to be a cleaner of septic tanks. He’s read “the works of Einstein and Carl Sagan”? Jeepers, that’s impressive! But how did he come up with that strange pairing of names? Neither has much to say about the contents of the Creation Museum. We suspect the only reason the letter-writer mentioned them is because he dimly remembered their names from something he saw on television. His knowledge of thermodynamics is about as masterful as his understanding of ethics. We continue:

As for the lack of honesty on the part of the museum manager, according to Gaines, it pales to the dishonesty perpetrated by the purveyors of theory as fact. Carbon dating, anthropology and the like explain only how “scientists” wish things were, not the truth.

Yes, the letter-writer has figured it out. Everything in science is a fraud — everything! Here’s his final paragraph. It’s so saturated with creationist foolishness that it requires no commentary from us. We’ll just let it flow:

If you want truth, read God’s word! I wonder if Gaines ever has. He certainly has read the secularists! God is not held to the laws of nature. If he wants to make something appear as millions of years old, which he did, nothing constrains him. He warns of those who foolishly seek false knowledge! I think it’s high time we ostracize those of us in this small community who believe and publish lies that seek to disrupt. The Bible tells us to just wipe our feet and move on when we fail with the unbeliever. And remember, if you doubt what God is written, either you are wrong or God is a liar!

Note from the Curmudgeon to himself: If at all possible, avoid visiting, passing through, or going anywhere near Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Update: See Kentucky “Creation Museum” Arouses Passions.

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

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

51 responses to “Creationist Wisdom — Example 64

  1. Stupidity is, of course, found in all regions of the country, but for some reason the Old South seems to be a reservoir of particularly wide-spread and almost institutionalized stupidity. I hope someday to find out why this is. Maybe the Curmudgeon has thoughts on this . . . . . .

  2. The first letter writer is at least partly in on the scam. He/she wrote:

    “I am not going to present an argument for creationism instead of evolution. If people truly want to know the truth, they can research it on their own. ”

    Translation: “Let’s dare not bring up how different versions of creationism contradict each other, and how each one fails to fit the evidence. Besides, most people won’t bother to research it on their own. So let’s just recycle the long-refuted feel-good anti-evolution sound bites. The sound bites will “stick”, and most people won’t bother to look up the refutations. See, I’m so open-minded it hurts!”

  3. They are not all stupid. Some are smart and irrational, some are stupid and irrational. They are all irrational.

  4. I am flattered by the attention.

    I don’t mind the hate mail; I’m used to it, and when I provoke incoherent ranting, I take it as a sign that I’m doing something right. Actually, positive comments have outnumbered negative by about 10 to one, but most of those have been personal notes rather than letters to the editor.

    A note on my name: The paper is owned by a family named Gaines, but as it happens I’m no relation, so my job isn’t as secure as it sounds. I am, naturally, constantly mistaken for one of The Gaines Boys, even by people who have read me for years and have seen that my opinions are diametrically opposed to most of the owners’.

    Bowling Green’s actually not bad, and as a college town it’s locally considered an island of llllllllllibrul civilization in a right-wing sea. It’s the only place Chevrolet Corvettes are made, but be warned: The “professional engineer” who wrote in does his engineering at the Corvette plant. In the original letter, by the way, he managed to spell it “professioanl.”

  5. Gentlemen: Jim Gaines is among us. Welcome, Jim. Sorry your comment got hung up in moderation. Sometimes that happens, and it’s out of my control.

    A friend of mine — an astronomer — loves his Corvette. He’ll be devastated to learn who’s making them.

  6. Jim Gaines wrote: “The paper is owned by a family named Gaines, but as it happens I’m no relation…”

    Aha! You deny common descent. You must be a creationist. 😉

  7. Thanks. I was just doing a quick Google to see how far the furor had spread; I popped up on Daily Kos and got a call from “Live from the Left Coast with Angie Corio,” all of which surprised me. I’ve gotten plenty of hate mail before, including about evil-ution, but this one has attracted the most attention.

    I’m hoping the Corvette plant has some heathen quality-control inspectors to safeguard your friend against brake lines stuffed with Bible verses and engine blocks held in place by prayer. Then again, that would explain a lot about the U.S. auto industry.

  8. Ummmmmm. Sorry. But being an engineer does not qualify you to be a scientist. Having an advanced degree in molecular biology from Columbia (like me) does. So Jim you need to stick to your area of expertise and quit pretending to know about stuff about which you have no actual knowledge.

  9. I don’t deny common descent, Frank J. I just think we diverged a looooooooong time ago. Round about Tiktaalik, perhaps.

  10. LRA, I didn’t claim that an engineer was a scientist. That was the letter writer himself.

  11. Well, Jim, you gotta keep up the good work. If you lose your job, you can always blog. It doesn’t pay, but at least it’s full-time.

  12. Well then, Jim, if you aren’t a scientist, then your opinion has no weight. So please shut up about things that you don’t actually understand.

  13. Jim, my regular commenters are just teasing you. We’re all pretty rational around here. (But I’m probably a bit more of a Republican than most.)

  14. I’m not going to get in a flame war with you, LRA. I’ll only suggest that you take your own advice.

  15. (Sarcasm. Sorry the the Discovery Institute likes to think that they can wave all kinds of false scientists in our faces and then make absurd claims.)

  16. LRA, Jim is one of the good guys. He criticized the museum.

  17. Then I apologize; as a newcomer, I just wish the sarcasm had been indicated a bit more clearly. The telltale intonation is so hard to convey in print.

    Yeah, the Creation Museum had a (short) list of endorsements from people with supposedly advanced scientific degrees, some from diploma mills or one-room Christian schools, but some from legit institutions. I hate the automatic assumption that that non-scientists are unable to make any reasonable, evidence-based arguments, or that anyone with a science degree (of whatever quality) is just as credible as any Nobel laureate.

  18. Jim:

    Here’s another for your scrapbook:

    http://dododreams.blogspot.com/2009/08/welcome-to-salem.html

    I loved the line about not asking a young-Earth creationist to put it out a fire at your house.

  19. Thanks, John. I particularly enjoy the “professioanl engineer’s” determination to ostracize me. Since I’d never heard of the guy until now, that shouldn’t cause me too much heartache.

  20. Jim- I’m so sorry. I don’t know what is wrong with me today. I somehow confused you with the silliness written about in the article. Please forgive me. I’m extra-sensitive because I have to deal with Rob Koons (of the DI) in my department. So sorry again!!!!

  21. (Having a bad day I guess…)

  22. Kurt Dominik

    One part of this whole debate that needs correction, and I beg (yes, BEG) any and all involved in any debate to start calling Creationism the “Hypothesis of Creationism” to designate that, as the scientific process goes, that it does not have any factual evidence with merit. I would hope that would educate more people about what it means when “Theory of Evolution” is bantered about with a misnomer of the word “theory”.

  23. Kurt Dominik, that’s an interesting suggestion, but creationism doesn’t rise to the status of “hypothesis.” An hypothesis is an untested, or little-tested scientific explanation of observed facts. There’s nothing scientific about creationism, as it invokes supernatural causation, ignores observable facts that contradict it, and it’s inherently untestable.

  24. (actually, multi-tasking fail. I got interrupted mid way through the article and when I picked it back up, Mr. Gaines got transformed into the letter writer. Sorry again!)

  25. @Kurt –

    I think that it would be too generous to call it a hypothesis.

    While it is true that Young Earth Creationism plus Noah’s Ark Literalism does manage to eke out some small bits of something positive to say, even that doesn’t get into “details” of how the processes took place, what were the mechanisms involved, or what it looks like when a creation event takes place. And the rest of the creationists, most notably the “Intelligent Design” advocates and subsequent developments say nothing at all even about “who did it” or when it happened.

    It isn’t so much the lack of evidence, but lack of substance or even lack of coherence that makes it unscientific.

  26. LRA, stop apologizing. We’re all okay here.

  27. I know, but I just hate it when this kinda stuff happens. *little red face*

  28. Yes, I’m certainly not offended, and I’m sorry I so quickly assumed a sarcastic comment was meant seriously.

    As for calling creationism a hypothesis, I have to disagree with that suggestion too. Not only do creationist arguments not rise to the level of formal hypothesis, as TomS said, but creationists wouldn’t understand the point. Generally, they don’t know what a hypothesis is, any more than they understand what “theory” really means.

    One slight correction: I’m now told that letter-writer Larry Herrin is actually a retired Corvette engineer. Anything he worked on has probably been thoroughly road-tested by now, so the flaws of his faith-based engineering should have revealed themselves already. Barring a miracle, that is.

  29. Jim– thanks! Now, do you think Mr. Herrin uses the biblically-based truth that pi=3?

    LOL!

  30. Jim Gaines says: “… letter-writer Larry Herrin is actually a retired Corvette engineer.”

    My guess is that he’s essentially a machinist. Engineers almost always refer to themselves by their academic specialization — civil engineers, aeronautical engineers, etc. In the Corvette plant, my guess is that the likeliest engineering graduate would be an industrial engineer. But your letter-writer didn’t say that, did he?

  31. LRA, I think you’ve hit upon the solution to Corvette wheel problems! Now, if we can just convince Herrin that the Bible doesn’t require wheels to have corners as well ….

  32. Kurt Dominik

    Jim & Tom,

    If Hypothesis is too flattering (and I agree with all your reasons), then another word should be considered which places the context correctly against the word Theory. Unfortunately there is no word in the Scientific Process earlier than Hypothesis. Concept, to me, also assumes some basic validation and is not acceptable. Idea is not a scientific term.

    The reason I like Hypothesis is that a Hypothesis is not a Theory until supporting evidence is found. So Creationism is a permanent Hypothesis. Plus, it keeps the discussion within the realm of science, forcing the Creationists to retreat to . . . Philosophical terms, where they belong.

    And actually, if a bunch of people had to look up Hypothesis, that may not be a bad thing.

    I’m feel I’m being a bit long winded about this, but that word Theory is always held up as an example, and I think if a “correct word” was applied to the Idea of Creationism (not too bad?) more people would think. And that is what has to happen.

  33. Kurt Dominik wrote: “If Hypothesis is too flattering (and I agree with all your reasons), then another word should be considered which places the context correctly against the word Theory.”

    I use “scam”, at least when I’m referring to the activists of the ID variety, if not their Biblical literalist cheerleaders.

    Creationism may have started out as legitimate alternate hypotheses, but various versions (YEC, OEC, FlatEC) competed with each other. That alone was a political no no (not to mention that all hypotheses were easily falsified), so the trend toward “don’t ask, don’t tell what the Creator/designer did, when or how, but dig up as much dirt about evolution as you can” began decades ago and shows no sign of slowing.

  34. Kurt Dominik says: “If Hypothesis is too flattering (and I agree with all your reasons), then another word should be considered which places the context correctly against the word Theory.”

    Creationism in all its forms (old earth, young earth, ID, etc.) is a “conjecture.” Nothing more, nothing less.

  35. Kurt Dominik

    I’ll take that; Conjecture of Creationism is perfect. Thanks, all!

  36. Kurt Dominik

    Now, can we promote Evolution to a Law while we’re at it? 🙂

    Thanks again for a reasonable and fruitful chat everyone!

  37. Kurt Dominik asks: “Now, can we promote Evolution to a Law while we’re at it?”

    A theory is never “promoted” to a law. A law is a description, like Newton’s law of gravity, or his laws of motion. A law will always be a law. A theory is an explanation, like evolution by natural selection. Laws and theories are two different things.

  38. I like it – “Creationist Conjecture” is even catchily alliterative!

    They still won’t get it, though. One of the most frustrating things about arguing with creationists is that our frames of reference are so different that we can’t even agree that basic terms mean the same things.

    By the way, I’ve written a follow-up column addressing the hate mail, which will run this Sunday. I was, however, just ordered to take out the actual names of the letter-writers, though they were all happy enough to sign their names to the letters.

  39. Jim Gaines says: “… I’ve written a follow-up column addressing the hate mail, which will run this Sunday.”

    Sunday’s a good day for it. But please drop us a comment here to give a link. I don’t want to miss it.

  40. Thanks, I will. Dunno what the final URL will be, but it’s always at http://www.bgdailynews.com, under the hed “Reasonable Doubt.”

  41. A year or so ago, there was some engineer or was it a kineseologist who purported to have disproved Evolution. Got a lot of Internet hits. Sounds the same and that clown was from Western Kentucky University, which just happens to be found in…… Bowling Green, KY.

    Hhhmmmmm…..

  42. Kurt Dominik

    Curmudgeon: Just a little Friday Frivolity with the “promotion” post.

    I look forward to reading the new article, James, and thanks for fighting the good fight.

  43. Ohhh, yes. That was Samuel Hunt. He was hilarious. And he was just a WKU student, majoring in physical therapy.

    His idea, stripped of its 84 pages of pompous mumbo-jumbo, was that universal microwave background radiation is really an echo of Yahweh saying “Let there be light” and any other abracadabrizing necessary for literal instantaneous creation. Just that assertion, nothing more: “White noise? Must be the echo of God’s voice. There ya go – proof!”

    Seriously.

    He gave a speech at WKU about it, drew a small crowd, and even fewer straight faces.

  44. I remember Samuel Hunt. He had a whole website. He didn’t realize that sound doesn’t work in a vacuum.

  45. Curmudgeon wrote: “Creationism in all its forms (old earth, young earth, ID, etc.) is a “conjecture.” Nothing more, nothing less.”

    Not a conjecture, but a collection of mutually contradictory ones. One of which (ID) is merely that “Darwinism” is falsified, unfalsifiable and the root of all evil.

  46. So, what’s in the water in Bowling Green?

  47. I think you get cranks anywhere. But they only attract notice if there’s a sufficient number of gullible people to provide an audience.

  48. Jim Gaines says: “But they only attract notice if there’s a sufficient number of gullible people to provide an audience.”

    Or if the newspaper publishes their letters, thus giving them some degree of credibility.

  49. Gabriel Hanna

    The reason I like Hypothesis is that a Hypothesis is not a Theory until supporting evidence is found.

    A theory is an explanation, like evolution by natural selection. Laws and theories are two different things.

    No, I think this is the wrong idea.

    It’s not like there is some kind of hierarchy that ideas have to go through, and they get promoted.

    The theories of gravitation, or QED, or germ theory, or stellar formation or what have you, consist of large numbers of “hypotheses” which explain observations, predict new observations, and tie into all of the other scientific theories.

    ONE hypothesis can’t get “promoted” to a theory because it is very rare that a single hypothesis would have such a large scope.

    A hypothesis is just a hypothesis, and always remains so. Doesn’t matter if it gets “confirmed” or not.

    Think of two hypotheses that used to compete:

    1) The sun and planets orbit the earth and their motions are composed of combinations of circles.

    2) The planets orbit the sun in ellipses with the sun at one focus.

    Both of these can explain the observed motions of the planets to any desired degree of accuracy. But #2 can be derived from the theory of gravitation, which says that all masses interact with each other by force inversely proportional to their separation and directly proportional to the product of their masses; and that all masses obey the three laws of motion.

    Not only can the observed planetary motions be derived from the theory, the theory also tells you how to find new planets. Not only does it deal with planets, but it can also deal with ANY two masses, for example if you drop a brick from a tower. It can even tell you how to figure out how much the earth weighs from two little lead balls.

    Now compare this to the Ptolemaic theory. All it can do is tell you how to predict where a planet will be in terms of an ever-complex array of circles. As your observations get better, your circles have to get more arbitrary and complicated, and it gives no reason for why orbits are circular, or what the sizes or masses of the planets have to do with anything, and it only applies to planets and not, say, to apples.

    Circular orbits and elliptical orbits are equally good hypotheses, but one is derived from a powerful, simple, and robust theory and the other is an assumption necessary for a post hoc, arbitrary, and limited theory.

    I hope that illustrates the difference.

    So where do laws fit in?

    I’ve generally seen “laws” used to mean a formula to calculate something. The Law of Gravitation and Coulomb’s Law tell you how to calculate forces. Snell’s Law tells how to find the refraction of light given the refractive indices of two materials. Laws can usually be written as one equation.

    Now “laws of nature” is typically used today in a kind of poetic way to mean the sum of scientific knowledge. In previous centuries a “law of nature” was a generalization without exceptions, a statement of cause and effect, that expressed something fundamental about the universe. The problem was that there is no (so far) universally agreed-on way to distinguish “important” laws from “silly” laws. For example, “all U.S. Presidents are male” is a generalization without exceptions; but most people would think it is very obviously not a “law of nature”. Until recently “all U.S. Presidents are white” would also have had no exceptions. But it is very hard to sort out in advance what kinds of generalizations are trivial and which are important, so “laws of nature” nowadays is used to be poetic.

  50. Myself, if pressed on the best descriptive word for creationism, I would suggest “concept”.

    As in an advertising concept, or in a political campaign concept. Not something you’re supposed to think about, but have good feelings toward.

  51. “Marketing gimmick.”