Hawking Inspires Discovery Institute Humor!

YOU have certainly heard about the much-reported and soon-to-be-released book by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow. This is a link to the book’s listing at Amazon: The Grand Design.

Here is an excerpt from the book which appears in the Wall Street Journal: Why God Did Not Create the Universe. A brief quote from that should suffice:

The discovery recently of the extreme fine-tuning of so many laws of nature could lead some back to the idea that this grand design is the work of some grand Designer. Yet the latest advances in cosmology explain why the laws of the universe seem tailor-made for humans, without the need for a benevolent creator.


As recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.

[Translation note: “Lighting the blue touch paper” is a British expression that may derive from old flintlock technology, which these days means doing something that causes excitement.]

The news about this new book has apparently had a transformative effect on the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

The Discoveroids have somehow shaken off their rigid, theocratic style and have suddenly dared to go where none of them has gone before. Today they’ve published at their creationist blog what we assume is their first deliberate attempt at humor. That’s right, dear reader, the Discoveroids are trying to be funny.

This is something you won’t want to miss, as there’s nothing funnier than when a creationist — oblivious to the ridiculousness of being himself — consciously tries to be funny. Take a look for yourself: Hawking Not Needed to Explain His New Book, Says Universe.

We won’t spoil things by quoting any of it. It’s something that you must experience first-hand, in its entirety. It’s so spectacularly … well, revealing of the creationist mind that it should become an instant classic — along with the only other known instance of creationist humor, the joke that ends with: “Make your own dirt!”

Go ahead. Click over to the Discoveroid blog. Grok in fullness.

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17 responses to “Hawking Inspires Discovery Institute Humor!

  1. “[Translation note: “Lighting the blue touch paper” is a British expression that may derive from old flintlock technology, which these days means doing something that causes excitement.] ”

    Actually, this term comes from fireworks – the ‘blue touch paper’ is the fuse (blue-coloured paper infused with an accellerant).
    The full quote, that originally came from the manufacturer’s instruction, was “Light the blue touch paper and stand well back!”.
    This phrase, when used in relation to god, is meant to mean that god initiated things (lit the ‘blue touch paper’), then ‘stood well back’, and allowed everything that followed to proceed without further intervention.

  2. They’re funnier when they’re not trying to be. (I didn’t know “lighting the blue touchpaper” was so peculiarly British, by the way – and I concur with Jim’s explanation.)

  3. Paul says:

    I didn’t know “lighting the blue touchpaper” was so peculiarly British …

    Americans have a long history of fireworks experience (it’s that Independence Day business) but I’ve never heard about blue touchpaper. We’re more likely to say something like “light the fuse.”

  4. Creationist humour is available in highly advanced form on Conservapedia, the wiki that is actually serious in claiming that Einsteinian relativity causes moral corruption and that complex numbers should not be used. Behold the ultimate Poe Paradox moment: their article on Poe’s Law.


    The top half is serious. The bottom half shows off their idea of … humour.

  5. Is there a corollary to Poe’s Law such that creationist attempts to satirize their opposition often yield greater insight than their own arguments? Though the Discovery Institute portrays itself as advocating a deity-neutral (dare I say agnostic) position, their lampoon of materialism betrays their commitment to ontological dualism and spiritualism. The notion of an indivisible universe of which we are merely a part is an idea that intrigued the Greek and Roman philosophers, as well as the Taoists and Buddhists, and left its mark on modern thought through Kant and Rousseau. Here in this bit of clumsy fluff then, we see the mind of the creationist scratching at the mortar of the foundation of the enlightenment.

  6. LC asks:

    Is there a corollary to Poe’s Law such that creationist attempts to satirize their opposition often yield greater insight than their own arguments?

    Good question. I’ve seen as much creationist writing as anyone, and if they’ve ever attempted satire I can’t recall it. Their usual methods are simple rejection and condemnation. Good satire is difficult — I know because I so often fail at it. It not only requires a decent understanding of the issues (which disqualifies most creationists) but then it requires a lot of other skills too. I doubt that there’s an analog to Poe’s Law for what is virtually a non-existent phenomenon.

  7. I’m obviously older than Jim. When I was a lad, fireworks manufacturers printed ‘light the blue touchpaper and retire immediately’. Exit, muttering about ‘dumbing down’ etc.

  8. You haven’t lived until you’ve stood in the rain on a blustery November 5th night in England to ooh and aah the fireworks, most of which don’t go off at all, and the rest of which squib out half-heartedly into the darkness, disappearing with a faint pop.

    “Stand well back” is also dry British humour befitting of such a scene.

    The level of creationist humor, however, is about 4th grade, where Bart Simpson has spent his life. Oblivious to the DI would be the improvement in humor if Bart wrote their material. Alas. There’s always a playground, mean-streak to creationist “humor.” They are raging against the storm but can only sputter, “I know you are! But, what am I?” When they are completely out of arguments, even lies, and can’t even make stuff up, they resort to creationist “humor.”

    I’m always left with the impression that they’re about to cry.

    But all cockfloppery** aside, creationists have attempted humor in the past with equally breathtakingly inane results. There was Dembski’s Vice (sic) Strategy which portrayed a little Darwin doll being squeezed by a clamp (not even a vise, even if Dembski could spell). The grand irony of that little escapade into comedy was Dembski’s retreat from exactly the trial brave Sir Robin wished for, Kitzmiller.

    And, again, into the breach, Dembski and Baylor distinguished professor of engineering, Robert Marks, produced the infamous, but not funny, Jib-Jab rip-off featuring a farting Judge Jones. They had no substantial response to the Kitzmiller decision, other than bursting into tears and shouting, “I’m gonna tell!”

    But the funniest, actually downright high-larry-us piece ever written was done by brain-mind dualist egnorant surgeon, Michael Egnor, when he announced on the DI’s website that all the stuff he had written had been a joke and that the Darwinist’s swallowed it hook, line and sinker and that the Joke was on Us. Yes, indeed, Egnor, well played, Sir! Uh, except it wasn’t written by Egnor. It was a parody site made up to look like the DI site, with subtle clues and hints sprinkled throughout, and was written by the Panda’s Thumb contributors as a double gotcha piece. I, too, fell into the trap and, momentarily, admired Egnor for his dry wit and cleverness, short-lived though it was!

    **cockfloppery – Old English, referring to a chicken-hearted fighting cock who feigns faint to avoid being skewered.

  9. Doc Bill says:

    The level of creationist humor, however, is about 4th grade …

    If you approach this creationism stuff with the right attitude, you can find humor even where they don’t intend it. All of creation science is rather humorous, actually. I suppose the only thing that keeps me sane in writing this blog is that I find it all to be amusing. For example, there are few things as uproariously funny as Noah’s Ark — except for the hapless apologetics of those who seriously believe in it.

  10. “There was Dembski’s Vice (sic) Strategy which portrayed a little Darwin doll being squeezed by a clamp (not even a vise, even if Dembski could spell).”

    You can probably blame us British for this one too, since vice is the correct spelling here for that clamp. ;)

  11. I, uh, can see why the author of that “humor” used a pseudonym.

    Here’s the question: Can they feel any embarrassment? I even feel a little for them (not just with this one, certainly), and I’m far from being very sympathetic to any of them.

  12. DI humor is not new. Remember Scott Minnich at the Dover trial?:

    “I kind of feel like Zsa Zsa’s fifth husband, you know? As the old adage goes, you know, I know what to do but I just can’t make it exciting.”

  13. [Big deletion.] Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity is probably the best known scientific equation. I revised it to help better understand the relationship between divine Essence (Spirit), matter (mass/energy: visible/dark) and consciousness (fx raised to its greatest power). Unlike the speed of light, which is a constant, there are no exact measurements for consciousness. In this hypothetical formula, basic consciousness may be of insects, to the second power of animals and to the third power the rational mind of humans. The fourth power is suprarational consciousness of mystics, when they intuit the divine essence in perceived matter. This was a convenient analogy, but there cannot be a divine formula.

  14. Ron Krumpos, that’s enough. We’ve already got the Time Cube.

  15. What is the point trying to made by the creationist in his humor? Can anyone explain it for me?

  16. They’re equating saying the universe created itself with saying a book wrote itself.

  17. “They’re equating saying the universe created itself with saying a book wrote itself.”

    Although in the process, they paint a compelling picture of all things in the universe happening in accordance with physical laws, in a sense inevitably, without outside or supernatural involvement. I wonder if the author realizes that, under the satire, this may be the most coherent description of the universe on that site.