Creationist Wisdom #123: Cliche-orama

WE present to you, dear reader, a letter-to-the-editor (or maybe it’s a guest column) titled The case for intelligent design, which appears in the Fort Scott Tribune of Fort Scott, Kansas. We’ll copy most of today’s letter, adding some bold for emphasis and our Curmudgeonly commentary between the paragraphs.

But first we must give you the preface which appears at the beginning of this essay:

Editor’s Note: The following is the first of a two part series written by Richard Marshall, of Fort Scott. The second part of the series will appear in the March 19 edition of The Tribune. The statements and opinions in this series are that of Marshall’s [sic]. The content of this series was not edited by the staff of The Tribune.

So if you like this one, you have the thrill of anticipating more material of this quality from the same source. Okay, here we go:

The Bible tells us that the world about us should tell us there is a god and that He is responsible for it’s creation. We should understand this without ever hearing about God from anyone. I have heard that the Cherokee Indians came to this conclusion from just observing God’s creation.

This intellectual leader of Fort Scott tells us that creationism is so obvious that even without the bible, people living in a stone age culture could see it. So what’s your excuse, dear reader? Let’s read on:

You no doubt know about the prevailing debate today of evolution vs Intelligent Design. I want to present the case for Intelligent Design. The athiest [sic] says that nothing produced everything.

The author appears to be a disciple of that world-famous genius, Ray Comfort. See Nothing Created Everything: The Scientific Impossibility of Atheistic Evolution. We continue:

Space is so vast that it is incomprehensible. Distances in space are measured in light years. A light year is the distance light travels in a year at the rate of 186,000 miles per second.

Wow — this guy really knows things! Here’s more:

In all the trillions of miles of space, the sun is 93 million miles from the earth — the right distance to provide the right temperature to support life on earth. The universe functions so precisely and orderly that astronomical events such as solar eclipses can be predicted hundreds of years in advance. The centripetal force of the earth around the sun [Aaaargh!!] is the right speed to keep the earth from flying out into space and at the same time to keep it from being drawn into the sun.

Now he’s babbling Privileged Planet stuff. You know how the argument goes: Look — my arms are exactly the right length to precisely fit between my shoulders and my wrists! It’s a miracle!

Moving along:

When I look at a new cadillac [sic] car, common sense and logic tells me that that car was designed and produced by people using their intelligence. I believe we would all agree that it would be the ultimate in stupidity to believe that car could come into existence by itself.

Aaaargh!! Now it’s William Paley’s watchmaker argument.

Next we’re presented with some recitals of biological phenomena like osmosis and “roots absorb nutrients in solution from the soil.” We’ll skip those because they’re well understood and aren’t worth repeating here. Well, okay — here’s one paragraph:

Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants produce food. All food originates from this process. Chlorophyll form [sic] the green color in plants. This chlorophyll is the machine by which it takes carbon dioxide from the air and water with nutrients from the roots and with energy from the light of the sun to produce food.

Oooooh, ooooooh — photosynthesis! You’ve got to be wondering: Where is all of this going? Here it comes, right at the end of today’s article:

I would say that all these complex functions in plant growth demonstrate very forcefully that they were designed by a very intelligent designer.

Wow! Ray Comfort, William Paley, light years, centripetal force, photosynthesis, chlorophyll — powerful stuff! We can’t wait for Part Two.

Update: See Creationist Wisdom #126: Cliche-orama 2.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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15 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #123: Cliche-orama

  1. No matter how often they trot out the same ole same ole, they never answer the obvious (and often made) questions arising.

    Thus, the hackneyed Richard Marshall claims

    these complex functions in plant growth demonstrate very forcefully that they were designed by a very intelligent designer

    but doesn’t address the compelling follow-up question, viz.: “If complexity can only arise from design at the hand of an Intelligent Designer, then whence comes the design of this complex Intelligent Designer? From a Hyper-Intelligent Designer, itself designed by a Mega-Hyper-Intelligent Designer? And so on and so forth, turtles all the way down…

  2. Great Claw says:

    but doesn’t address the compelling follow-up question, viz.: “If complexity can only arise from design at the hand of an Intelligent Designer, then whence comes the design of this complex Intelligent Designer?

    That’s the second question. The first is: If we can figure out a natural explanation, why even consider a super-natural explanation (which carries with it the problem of its own origin)?

  3. Curmy :

    “That’s the second question. The first is: If we can figure out a natural explanation, why even consider a super-natural explanation (which carries with it the problem of its own origin)?”

    You have it backwards. If we can figure out a supernatural explanation, why expend energy trying to figure out a natural one? The answer was given >2000 years ago by a troop of nomadic sheep herders looking for a place to call home. They even wrote it down. Impressive, no?

    Remember, God and religion, ‘specially Christianity, is the primary reality, usually called the first reality while everything we can see, touch, taste, hear, measure and test is the second reality.

    Your job as one of God’s creations is to look to the first reality, well … first, and then, as long as the first reality cannot explain whatever it is you are looking at, look to a natural explanation. No real need to do that though, since everything can be explained quite satisfactorily by the first reality.

  4. Tundra Boy says: “You have it backwards.”

    That’s often the case.

  5. Creationists will be creationists … it’s like gravity. Instead, I wrote to the editor asking if his treatment was fair. How many other individuals have been allowed two-part commentaries? Whi is Richard Marshall that he qualifies for a two-part commentary? Were they going to allow a two-part commentary of the opposing view? I told the editor that it seemed the editorial staff was too spineless to take their own public stance so they “hired” Richard Marshall to hawk the newspaper’s true editorial position. I suggest that everyone go to the newspaper, read the commentary, and write to the editor … for equal time and space.

  6. I also sent a note to the editor asking them to not run the 2nd part to the series of misinformation.

    I said that while opinions have a place in the Op/Ed section of his paper, they should have the integrity to stop printing scientific misinformation.

    Creationists/ID believers/Evolution deniers will be primary force in the crumbling of our civil rights in the US and we all have to do what we can to stop them from spreading their misinformation.

  7. In all the trillions of miles of space, the sun is 93 million miles from the earth — the right distance to provide the right temperature to support life on earth.

    And the perimeter of every pothole is exactly the right shape to contain the water that fills it! Surely, this is proof that potholes are intelligently designed!

    Not to mention that, as “physicist” so aptly put it, “your legs are exactly the correct length so that your feet just reach the ground.”

  8. but doesn’t address the compelling follow-up question, viz.: “If complexity can only arise from design at the hand of an Intelligent Designer, then whence comes the design of this complex Intelligent Designer? From a Hyper-Intelligent Designer, itself designed by a Mega-Hyper-Intelligent Designer? And so on and so forth, turtles all the way down…

    The answer is simple: it’s “turtles all the way down” until you eventually reach the “Turtle of Special Pleading” …

    😉

  9. I had never heard of the Privileged Planet before, so when I looked into it, it turns out that Guillermo Gonzalez still claims to be a professor at Iowa State, but he was denied tenure in 2007 and subsequently has an appointment at Grove City College in PA (but no personal website available). Not surprising that something associated with the Discoveroids has “forgotten” to update their information about their authors.

  10. The Argument from Design is, at best, an argument that a complex object cannot arise from natural causes. It is never an argument that specifies that an “intelligent designer” can give rise to a complex object, and that an “intelligent designer” is the only other possibility. Who can exclude the possibility that there is some other origin for that complex object? Or even that the “complexity” had no origins at all? Or even that we have to recognize that we don’t have any explanation at all? “I don’t know” may be unsatisfying, but better to live with that, than to insist that we know something that we don’t.

    Or even to admit that the real conclusion might be, “Maybe this object isn’t as complex as I thought is was.”

  11. I suppose in a town of about 8,000 people, everyone knows who Richard Marshall is and how much credence they should give to his opinion piece. However, looking at the other “Opinion” pieces at the website, I would guess that most people in Fort Scott will agree with him. “Faith is everywhere around us”, “Thank God for the good old days”, “The purpose of Lent”. Other “Opinion” pieces sound more like church/family newsletters, “Battlefield Dispatches No. 205”, “Old memories from the class of ’49”, “‘Something new’ Passover meal to be held March 29 in Arcadia”, “Interim pastor to fill in at Arcadia”.

    I rather doubt if complaining to the editor will make any difference but, would be interested to know if you ever hear back from him/her.

  12. In all the trillions of miles of space, the sun is 93 million miles from the earth — the right distance to provide the right temperature to support life on earth. The universe functions so precisely and orderly that astronomical events such as solar eclipses can be predicted hundreds of years in advance. The centripetal force of the earth around the sun is the right speed to keep the earth from flying out into space and at the same time to keep it from being drawn into the sun.

    Now he’s babbling Privileged Planet stuff.

    Well, the first part is PP, but the second part appears to be from The Evolution Handbook a collection of stupidity that is even greater than Ray Comfort is capable of. An example:

    Every moon is located at the precise distance to keep it from flying into or away from its planet…. To have such a huge body circling so close to us—without falling into the earth—is simply astounding. Scientists cannot keep their satellites orbiting the earth without occasional adjustments. Lacking such adjustments, the orbits decay and the satellites eventually fall and crash. Yet, century after century, our moon maintains an exquisitely perfect orbit around the earth.

  13. @TomS

    As you know, the chief promoters of that argument are aware of those problems with the “A from D”. But they also know that their target audience will not understand that, and worse, that they can bait critics with it, and get them on a tangent that takes the focus off of the fact that, even if they were right about “design,” how and when those “designs” were introduced in biological systems would still be indistinguishable from evolution as we know it (billions of years, common descent and all).

    That’s why IMO it’s most important to hold their feet to the fire and force them to give us “what and when” details of their “theory”. When they give the usual excuses, at least half of their audience would be surprised and disappointed to learn that nothing in the “A from D” provides any evidence to validate any of the mutually contraditory “literal” interpretations of the stories they hear in church. The other ~1/2, of course, is beyond hope (and reality), and will take anything as validating their particular interpretation.

  14. Ray Comfort is at least a clever counterfeiter. His ministry has produced authentic-looking million-dollar bills (they’re tracts — there’s a religious message on the reverse). I’ve heard they’re legal because no actual million-dollar bill has ever been issued so it’s not technically counterfeiting. Problem is, they’re well enough done that people have tried to cash them.

    A while back, the St. Louis newspaper ran a pathetic series about a poor, down-on-his-luck old fellow who found one of those tracts in a phone booth and thought his luck had changed. In what may have been a case of journalistic malpractice, the reporter followed the guy around as he went to banks and government offices with the bill to cash in his fortune, apparently never bothering to inform the sad old man upfront that the bill was bogus. (No story in that, but the reader response was universally livid on that score alone.)

    This isn’t evolution-connected, but I think it ultimately says something about the sort of sleazy publicity stunts Comfort tends to pull.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fake_denominations_of_United_States_currency

  15. Deklane: “This isn’t evolution-connected, but I think it ultimately says something about the sort of sleazy publicity stunts Comfort tends to pull.”

    Actually it is evolution-connected. Somehow these scam artists have almost everyone fooled that they “honestly believe” that the Earth is only 1000s of years old and that all sorts of “kinds” popped up independently.