Creationist Wisdom #217: Befuddled in Louisiana

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Shreveport Times of Shreveport, Louisiana. It’s titled Design will always be an excellent explanation for life. We’ll give you a few excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and as we usually do we’ll omit the writer’s name and city. Here we go, with a bit of bold font added for emphasis:

The really big question, the one we all consider, the one that is debated in break rooms, courtrooms and science classes is whether we were designed and created for a specific purpose or we are purposeless products of entirely natural processes, a long string of undirected accidents.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s the “really big question” in the letter-writer’s life? Okay, let’s see how he answers it:

As I typed this and now as you read it, an estimated 50 trillion cells are working together to let me give expression to a thought and you to receive it and judge its worth. The human brain is the most complex structure known to exist in our universe.

That should be “billion,” not “trillion,” but we won’t quibble. The letter-writer is a creationist, so one big number is pretty much the same as another. And is the human brain all that complex? That depends on definitions. Our guess would be the world’s economy is far more complex, but that’s a side-issue. Let’s read on:

In his book “Signature in the Cell”, Stephen C. Meyer describes the intricate detail and complexity of these small components of our body, these cells. Each cell of the human body and in every other form of life contains a tremendous amount of DNA information related to that particular life form.

Ah yes, Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer, best known for his key role in the notorious peer review controversy. We wrote about him and his book a couple of years ago: A New Creationism Book To Avoid. It’s William Paley’s watchmaker argument from 200 years ago.

However, let’s not dismiss today’s letter-writer merely because he admires Meyer. We’ll keep an open mind as we read on:

He [Meyer] reasons that the only known source of such coded information as is found in DNA is an intelligent source. Meyer applies what we know to be true regarding the source of such information to what we find in the cell and concludes that an intelligent source, left his (His) signature in every cell.

Yeah, that’s what he says. Now here’s something strange:

One of Meyer’s most severe critics has been Steven Matheson, a biology professor and naturalist. Matheson’s criticism of Meyer’s book led to a debate between the two. In the course of the discussion, Matheson acknowledged that “design” is “the one explanation that we know” that can explain the origin of the DNA information. He confessed or acknowledged that “design will always be an excellent and irrefutable explanation.”

Was that an accurate quote? We don’t know, but we always distrust quotes when they’re presented by creationists. It appears that the letter-writer is referring to this man, described as being formerly with Calvin College. He recently wrote this open letter to Meyer, and here’s one brief excerpt:

Your Discovery Institute is a horrific mistake, an epic intellectual tragedy that is degrading the minds of those who consume its products and bringing dishonor to you and to the church. It is for good reason that Casey Luskin is held in such extreme contempt by your movement’s critics … . I can’t state this strongly enough: the Discovery Institute is a dangerous cancer on the Christian intellect, both because of its unyielding commitment to dishonesty and because of its creepy mission to undermine science itself. I’d like to see you do better, but I have no such hope for your institute. It needs to be destroyed, and I will do what I can to bring that about.

We’ll ignore the letter-writer’s account of what may or may not have been an endorsement of Meyer’s work by Matheson and continue with his letter:

We teach our children evolution as an explanation for the diversity and complexity of life, but evolution cannot explain the origin of DNA information in every cell. Design is the only explanation that explains the existence of that information. The design explanation demands or requires a designer.

Verily, design requires a designer. And letters like today’s require an Abominable Befuddler. We’ll give you one more excerpt:

Paradoxically, we teach this godless “evolution” speculation in our public schools as fact. We have “In God We Trust” imprinted on our currency, “One Nation Under God” in our pledge of allegiance and refer to man’s “creator,” “nature’s God” and “divine providence” in our Declaration of Independence. We adorn our public buildings with biblical images and Scriptures and open all our sessions of government with prayer, and yet we teach our children they are purposeless products of chance and natural processes.

That’s where we’re going to leave this one. It’s always interesting to see how things are going in the great state of Louisiana — hey, that rhymes with banana!

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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7 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #217: Befuddled in Louisiana

  1. So glad I left that lunatic bin of a state. My family tells me that it has only gotten worse since Jindal took office. It is as though all the brains have pretty much drained out of the state.

  2. His first example of where this question is debated is in “break rooms”? Where does he work? In over 40 years of hanging out in numerous break rooms, I never once heard this subject brought up, much less debated.

    I note that he has also added a comment to his entry:
    I’m the author of that letter. Given these responses I feel a bit like Job when his friends/acquaintances were trying to enlighten him. So, I’ll use a Job quote from Chapter 16, Amplified translation to respond.

    2 I have heard many such things; wearisome and miserable comforters are you all!

    3 Will your futile words of wind have no end? Or what makes you so bold to answer [me like this]?

    4 I also could speak as you do, if you were in my stead; I could join words together against you and shake my head at you.”

  3. He says “Paradoxically, we teach this godless “evolution” speculation in our public schools as fact.”

    Really? Which public schools would those be?

  4. Stephen Matheson’s own explanation of that debate, and of those words in particular (not the creationist distortion of them), can be found here;

    “Well, that’s not right at all. I never claimed that his explanation is best. I asserted that it can explain what Meyer wants it to explain. Later in the exchange I referred to design as an “excellent and irrefutable explanation,” my point being that a superintelligence will always work as an explanation, for anything, anytime. I’ve asserted as much on several previous occasions, and I think it should be obvious that this is a problem for design explanations, not a strength. If you’re offering an irrefutable explanation, you’re in danger of offering a vacuous explanation. It is for such scenarios that the concept of Last Thursdayism was invented.”

  5. Thanks, Harry. I figured that was the case, but I didn’t have time to chase it down.

  6. And Governor Jindal wins reelection…

  7. Zack says:

    And Governor Jindal wins reelection…

    He pandered to all the right groups