Creationist Wisdom — Example 76

THIS one is much more than your everyday creationist letter-to-the-editor. It appears in the Indianapolis Star, Indiana’s largest newspaper, and it’s written by someone who once was the editor — Russ Pulliam. It is therefore with considerable delight that we offer you some excerpts from Darwin debates, Part 2. The bold font was added for emphasis. Here we go:

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s “Origin of Species,” I recently wrote an objection to the belief that Darwin’s theory can be used an explanation for the origins of the universe.

Here’s the difference between us, dear reader. If you encountered a column with that for the lead sentence, you’d recognize it as the scribbling of an ignoramus, and you’d promptly move on in search of worthwhile reading material. Ah, but when your Curmudgeon sees something like this, we think: “How wonderful! This will fit perfectly into our Creationist Wisdom series.”

This column is titled “Part 2” because it’s Pulliam’s response to criticism he received for an earlier column he wrote which appeared on 25 September: Taking Darwin on faith. It’s worth seeing a bit of that first column in order to understand the responses it provoked, and the defensive mode into which those responses have now placed the author. Here’s a sample, with bold added for emphasis:

Yet in the debate between evolution and creation, those on the Darwinian side of the discussion often make the same error that they see in their opponents. They observe nature and evolution within species, or adaptation. From there came Darwin’s evolutionary hypothesis that humans evolved from the amoebas.

Many scientists contend that the theory has been proven, or rendered undeniable, by so much research. Yet there’s a leap of faith involved in Darwinian theory.

Part of the problem is defining science, which is traditionally limited to observation and experimentation.

You can now understand the background against which this creationist columnist and former editor wrote today’s “Part 2” in defense of his earlier column. In the course of defending his original nonsense, he digs himself deeper into the hole. As these things go, it doesn’t get much more entertaining.

In today’s column, after a bit more introductory blather, Pulliam quotes one of his critics:

Butler University religion professor James McGrath wants me to bone up on modern science. “Perhaps Pulliam’s own ill-reasoned article is itself evidence that reason cannot be trusted, that we are too prone to self-deception. Yet even so, it can be argued that scientific methods do a better job of helping us avoid such self-deception and poor reasoning than anything else.”

Okay, so what’s Pulliam’s response?

Perhaps, but scientific methods don’t help when it comes to questions about purpose in life and ethics.

Powerful rebuttal! Now he tells of some more criticism he received:

If blogger Clever Badger were to open a school, I probably wouldn’t gain admission. He lumps me in with the young Earth creationists and faults me for oversimplifying evolution as humans coming from amoebas. I plead guilty to oversimplification.

Ah, then he’ll retract the statement? Let’s see:

He misunderstood my comment about the definition of science as observation and experimentation [when he said]. “So Pulliam wants us to redefine science?”

That was our reaction too. Here’s how Pulliam handles this one:

I never said that …

[Beep!] We interrupt that sentence to repeat what Pulliam said in his earlier column:

Many scientists contend that the theory has been proven, or rendered undeniable, by so much research. Yet there’s a leap of faith involved in Darwinian theory.

Part of the problem is defining science, which is traditionally limited to observation and experimentation.

Now, having denied saying that, Pulliam’s sentence continues where we interrupted it:

… but he caught my main point [when he said]. “If you get too far away from that [observation and experimentation], you aren’t doing science any more. You’re doing some sort of philosophy.”

That was Pulliam’s main point? Too bad he didn’t say it. Indeed, we don’t think he understands it even now. Here’s the last of his current column:

What’s nice about the Internet is that this debate over origins never seems to end.

Actually, the debate is over — the scientific debate about the merits of creationism, that is. But we agree with Pulliam in the sense that something about this mess will never end. That something is the confusion of reality deniers, muddled thinkers, and other practitioners of buffoonery.

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

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6 responses to “Creationist Wisdom — Example 76

  1. retiredsciguy

    Pulliam wrote:
    “I recently wrote an objection to the belief that Darwin’s theory can be used an explanation for the origins of the universe.”

    Mr. Pulliam, can you show us even one sentence written by Darwin that speaks to the origin of the universe? For that matter, can you cite anything Darwin wrote that speculates on the origin of life?

    No, I don’t believe you can. Darwin wrote about the origin of species, in other words, how his observations led him to an understanding of how natural selection can lead to the evolution of one species into another, given enough generations. He said nothing about the beginning of life itself, or the beginning of the universe.

    I am afraid you are a very confused man, Mr. Pulliam.

  2. Russ Pulliam said:Many scientists contend that the theory has been proven, or rendered undeniable, by so much research. Yet there’s a leap of faith involved in Darwinian theory.

    Part of the problem is defining science, which is traditionally limited to observation and experimentation.

    I’m not sure what he’s saying there. I think maybe we have a case of really bad writing. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when he says those couple of sentences were misunderstood.

    Maybe he was trying to say that Darwinian theory requires a leap of faith, but science is traditionally defined to be limited to observation and experimentation, so that’s part of the problem of why Darwinian theory is a big ol’ poopy-head. (I guess.)

  3. 386sx says: “I’m not sure what he’s saying there. I think maybe we have a case of really bad writing.”

    I can only judge his thinking by his writing. Maybe he’s a great thinker, but if he can’t write, it leaves us with a bad impression. He certainly imagines that he’s a great thinker. I see no reason to assume he’s correct in that.

  4. retiredsciguy

    This is from indystar.com:

    “ABOUT RUSS PULLIAM…
    …He lives in Indianapolis with his wife Ruth. They have six children and are still home schooling one of them.”

    It seems that many creationists are home-schoolers. Guess they just don’t want their kids exposed to “that godless evolution stuff”.

  5. The funny thing is that even in home-schooling it doesn’t always work. My wife was home-schooled and even fully indoctrinated it didn’t take her much to see the gaping holes in logic Creationism has in it. Probably because she did study some biology and found the Creationism offers nothing in explaining what is happening. Of course this makes family get togethers occasionally very interesting…

  6. retiredsciguy

    Albanaeon writes:
    ” My wife was home-schooled and even fully indoctrinated it didn’t take her much to see the gaping holes in logic Creationism has in it. ”

    And therein lies the problem for fundamentalists. By insisting that the bible must be read literally, allowing no flexibility in interpretation, they risk alienating thoughtful people from the good that is in the bible.

    Far better, in my opinion, to accept that the bible is written as parable, and not insist upon a literal reading.