Creationist Wisdom #161: Both Sides

We present to you, dear reader, a letter-to-the-editor titled Why not debate both sides of evolution, creationism?, which appears in the Asheville Citizen-Times, published in Asheville, North Carolina. We’ll copy most of today’s letter, but we’ll omit the writer’s name and city. We’ll also add some bold for emphasis, plus our usual Curmudgeonly commentary between paragraphs. Here we go:

The AC-T [initials for this newspaper] editorial board claims there’s only one side to the issue in “Public schools should teach scientific fact, not religion.” Darwin’s theories monopolize America’s classrooms, yet the AC-T says that’s insufficient. Academic freedom is suppressed and leading scientists refuse to debate. No wonder the U.S. is 17th worldwide in science literacy.

Yeah, no wonder! Let’s read on:

Darwin believed one species could become another. That is scientifically impossible in my opinion.

Most impressive. We continue:

Changes do occur within a particular species, as any dog breeder can prove. Crossbreeding or interbreeding produces hybrids only of the same kind.

Right! That Darwin guy must have been an idiot. Here’s more:

Darwin knew nothing of DNA, which functions as a software program designed by a programmer with unlimited intelligence.

Oooooooooooh! A “programmer with unlimited intelligence.” Blessed be the Programmer! Moving along:

Darwin had no knowledge of the intricate nanotechnology that exists within cells, or of their irreducible complexity.

Behe has a convert. Another excerpt:

Galileo’s faith in an active Creator produced his scientific discoveries.

You must admit, dear reader, that was among the best claims we’ve ever seen in one of these letters. On we go:

And it was religious skeptic/secular humanist Kurt Vonnegut (1922 – 2007) who said: “Scientists are pretending they have the answer as to how we got this way when natural selection couldn’t possibly have produced such machines.”

Kurt Vonnegut? Bwahahahahaha!!

And now we come to the end:

Open science proves God’s creation to be more marvelous than Darwin envisioned. Darwin’s prophetic statement that future scientists would be able to “view both sides of the question with impartiality” is still premature.

[Writer’s name and city can be seen in the original.]

That was a great letter. We have nothing to add.

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

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11 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #161: Both Sides

  1. Vonnegut has always confused me a bit. He allegedly said this during an interview on NPR in 2006, but I haven’t yet found the transcript of the entire interview.

    Yet again, creationists are a puzzlement. They quote a scientist who believed that viruses dropped from comet tails, and now they quote a writer who was a humanist.

  2. Darwin had no knowledge of the intricate nanotechnology that exists within cells, or of their irreducible complexity.

    Take a look at the Wikipedia article on “Irreducible complexity” for several of those before, or contemporary with, Darwin who wrote about the concept.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreducible_complexity#Forerunners

    Of course, whether or not Darwin was aware of a concept, that has little to do with the development of evolutionary biology since then.

  3. Darwin knew nothing of DNA, which functions as a software program designed by a programmer with unlimited intelligence.

    So intelligent that DNA was designed to be hugely more evolvable than normal code is. Almost like it would have to be if it had it evolved…

  4. Gabriel Hanna

    @Ellie:they quote a writer who was a humanist.

    They quote him because they consider it an admission against interest. If even irreligious people can’t accept evolution, then there must be something really wrong with it. As rhetoric this argument is effective, but it’s not scientific. Things are true or not irrespective of whether it is in my interest that they be true.

  5. Gabriel Hanna

    For example, if I make cigarettes it would be against my interest to acknowledge that they cause cancer and heart disease, so if I publicly acknowledge it people will think it must be true–if I had any doubts why would I say such a thing that can’t do me any good and probably do me harm? But all you can prove from this is that I probably believe it is true–and that doesn’t even count the possibility of, say, irony.

  6. The two sides: Evolution is the best theory we have for explaining the amazing diversity of life on earth. Creationists and anything based on Bronze Age fables is wrong.

    Done.

  7. Kurt Vonnegut wrote perhaps the only novel ever written that was specifically based on Darwin’s theory of natural selection – Galapagos. I read it maybe 20 years ago and it left a lasting impression. Very creative, and an interesting speculation on the value of human intelligence and technology. Highly recommended.

    I’m sure that’s why Vonnegut was quoted.

  8. Evolution is the best theory we have for explaining the amazing diversity of life on earth.

    For many of the major features of the world of life, the only explanations that anyone has so far thought of have involved descent with modification as a major feature. Creationism (in particular, “Intelligent Design”) has not offered any explanation. It isn’t so much a matter of the best theory, but rather the only theory. “Some undescribed agents did something or other at some time and somewhere, somehow, for inscrutable reasons” is not even an attempt at an explanation.

    (And, by the way, evolution is descent of populations with modification, and is something that happens in the world of life: “evolution is a fact”. Some evolutionary theories are “inheritance of acquired characteristics”, “natural selection”, and “random variation”.)

  9. Kurt Vonnegut’s position on Intelligent Design is quite clear in this interview: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-september-13-2005/kurt-vonnegut

  10. Arghhh! I hate to see NC shown in such a bad light. Asheville’s a lovely town in the mountains (I’m near Raleigh). A very diverse population; full of woo lovers, but lots of free-thinking types. Then there’re the rural fundies.

    Some good responses to this letter (of course, plenty of fundie crap–haven’t seen the 2nd law argument yet, but I’m not done reading). Gary Hurd commented there too. A few others too that I see responding to letters of this kind.

  11. Lynn – as a biology teacher in the beautiful city of Asheville, I am happy to point out that the writer in this case was responding to an op-ed column which argued against the teaching of anything other than evolutionary theory in science classrooms. And you’re right – there were several letters along the same vein as this one, but several others who took him to task. And most of my students (college prep admittedly) are astounded that anyone could disagree with something as logical as evolutionary theory. So never fear – Asheville is ok.