WorldNetDaily: Two Wretched Articles

Buffoon Award

Our slumber was once again shattered by blaring sirens and lights flashing on the wall display of our Retard-o-tron™. The blinking letters on the wall said WorldNetDaily.

WorldNetDaily (WND) is the flamingly creationist, absolutely execrable, moronic, and incurably crazed journalistic organ that believes in and enthusiastically promotes every conspiracy theory that ever existed. WND was an early winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award, thus that jolly logo displayed above this post.

We were directed to two articles in WND — yes, two! We’ll give you some excerpts from each, with bold font added by us

The first is Why E.T. isn’t phoning home. We’ve written about this subject recently (Charles Krauthammer and the Fermi Paradox) and the WND article discusses not only the recent discovery of more extra-solar planets, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and the Fermi Paradox, but it also quotes from the same Krauthammer essay about which we wrote. After that, everything sensible is dismissed in a blizzard of creationism. We’ll skip the familiar material and start in the middle of the WND article:

All of these questions, all of this confusion, all of this hand-wringing is based, of course, on materialist (atheist) philosophy. It evolves, so to speak, from the view that – as Krauthammer put it – we are “a lonely species in a merciless universe.” There is no God, so we are on our own and must fend for ourselves – unless there’s some similarly “lucky” planet out there where, as with Earth, all of the necessary elements to sustain life are present at astronomically unimaginable (i.e., impossible) odds.

We’ve never considered SETI to be an atheist enterprise, but that’s because we don’t think like the writers at WND. Then the article moves into familiar creationist territory:

You see, the problem for materialists is that the narrative into which they invested all their hopes – a chaotic universe formed by pure chance – has been decimated in recent decades by the discovery of dozens of finely-tuned equations governing our universe (Earth’s axis, the force of gravity). Not only that, but the accompanying knowledge that if any one of these equations were slightly altered, life on this planet would simply not be possible.

That’s the fine tuning argument, which we often encounter in creationist writings. It’s a close relative of the anthropic principle, which we discussed in Common Creationist Claims Confuted. As we said there:

It shouldn’t surprise us that everything we discover about the universe is consistent with our existence — were it otherwise we wouldn’t exist. But it doesn’t follow that the universe exists for the purpose of our existence.

Anyway, creationists love the fine tuning argument. It’s really just a dressed-up refinement of the God of the gaps. Meanwhile, back at the WND article, its author is busy dumping a few quotes taken out of context, to “show” that famous scientists agree with him. Then he takes a swipe at the concept of the “multiverse,” claiming it’s a desperate attempt to explain why our universe is so perfect for us, and he says:

Yet even the multiverse theory, as speculative as it surely is, doesn’t explain the origin of the laws of nature, or tell us why a universe made of matter should obey laws.

We could write at length about why “matter should obey laws,” but we’ve done so before and we won’t burden you yet again. Essentially, how could anything that exists do otherwise than behave in accordance with its characteristics? Thus we observe that there are “laws” of nature. Let’s read on:

So although, as atheists argue, their “logic and anti-isocentrism assures us that we are not unique,” the actual evidence continues to bolster … isocentrism, or geocentrism, the idea that man is unique and that we are at the center of the universe (not speaking of our physical location, but our place in the heart and mind of a loving Creator).

Aaaargh!! We continue:

This idea, which they reject so resoundingly, is at the core of the biblical creation account, that we are God’s special creation and that He designed this planet uniquely and especially for us. … So they continue searching breathlessly for signs of friendly planets supporting extraterrestrial life, while at the same time coming up with explanations why nothing and no one has been found.

Here’s where the writer gets “clever,” in a creationist sense, as he joins the Fermi Paradox with his fantasy that the fossil record is as silent as alien signals:

[I]f materialist philosophy is accurate, there should be many of them [aliens], and we should literally be getting bombarded with radio waves and messages. But we’re not.

[…]

In much the same way, if Darwinian evolution were true, the landscape should be littered with transitional fossils which Darwin himself said would have to be found in great abundance over time for his theory to be substantiated. Yet despite the fact that his prediction was made about a century and a half ago, those fossils are still missing. They are nowhere to be found, except for a handful of “breakthrough discoveries” which have appeared from time to time, only to eventually be reclassified as purely human or animal remains, or to invariably be exposed as hoaxes.

Yes, there is no list of transitional fossils. It’s been just one Piltdown Man after another. Here’s how the WND’s essay ends:

Not to worry, though. As Krauthammer also relates, astronomers assure us that it will only be a year or two more before we have our long-awaited close encounter of the third kind. Contact. Say what you want about atheists, they are devoted people of faith. And for them, notwithstanding the fact that they don’t believe in an eternity, hope somehow always springs eternal.

Enough of that. Here’s the second WND article we found today: Inspirational historical works for homeschoolers. The third book it recommends is “America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations” by Bill Federer. It’s described as follows:

This exhaustive compilation of statements highlights America’s noble heritage. Discover countless profound quotes from Founding Fathers, presidents, statesmen, scientists, constitutions, and court decisions for use in speeches, papers, debates and essays!

The article gives a few quotes from that book, introduced with this question: “Do you know who said the following?” One of those quotes is familiar to us, and we took the time to check one other. Here’s the first:

To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances… could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.

Below the quotes are the answers. That one is correctly attributed to Charles Darwin. However, it’s wildly out of context, and it’s one of the most common and insidious of all creationist misrepresentations. We explained all that in in this post, Evolution of the Eye, so we won’t repeat ourselves.

The second quote, which we checked, is this:

Whoever shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world.

That one is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but it certainly doesn’t sound like him. He was an unchurched Deist, and he boasted of it in his Autobiography. We wasted a lot of time searching online collections of Franklin’s writings, but we couldn’t find the quote from the WND article. Finally we figure out why. It’s described here: Fake Quotations: Franklin and Primitive Christianity.

We’re not going to waste any more time on the few other quotes in the WND article. We assume that the rest of them, and the whole the book, are of equal quality — that is, worthless and fraudulent.

And so we take our leave of WND for today. But we’ll say this in their favor: They’re awesomely consistent.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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10 responses to “WorldNetDaily: Two Wretched Articles

  1. That one is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but it certainly doesn’t sound like him.

    A lot of Deists had positive things to say about early Christianity, but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that Franklin actually said what he is supposed to have said here.

  2. At least one source continues this remark with:An absolute equality of condition; a community of goods; a Republic of the poor and of brethren; associations without a Government; enthusiasm for dogmas, and submission to chiefs to be elected from their equals,—this is the state to which the Presbyterian of Philadelphia reduced the Christian Religion.
    Which makes it sound as if the “primitive Christianity” that the author had in mind was something like socialism. It would not be surprising that Franklin thought that “primitive Christianity” was some kind of socialist commune – lots of people have said as much. Whether it was, and whether Franklin was one of those who believed that, I don’t know.

  3. From the first article:
    “There is no God, so we are on our own and must fend for ourselves…”
    They say that like it’s a bad thing. Would it be so bad if humanity faced up to that reality and acted like we are responsible to ourselves and each other only?

  4. Retired Prof

    aturingtest, Matthew 25:37-40 says our responsibility to God is the same thing as our responsibility to ourselves and each other:

    “Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

    “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

    If Christians would take that scripture literally, they would see that atheism is no problem whatsoever. It doesn’t make any difference whether people believe there is a God or not. All they have to do is treat others with compassion, respect, and kindness, and–voila!–they’re doing God’s work, even if they never dreamed of doing so.

    It was Paul who corrupted the message by harping continually on faith as the main duty of a Christian; then Luther made it worse by insisting that faith is the only criterion for Christian salvation.

    Today’s fundamentalists further assume that without faith in an omniscient and vengeful God, we will have no incentive to treat other people right. Sorry, but to me that just seems sick.

  5. That’s pretty well said, Retired Prof, especially that last paragraph. It’s the sort of thought that keeps my agnosticism from developing into full-blown atheism ( it’s not really the idea of a god I object to so much as any organized religion built around it). The only problem I have is, I think that as long as people think they are accountable to a god, they will feel primarily responsible to him, a shift of the burden away from where it really belongs. And along with that shift in the burden of responsibility and accountability comes an assumption of rights in the same “name of god,” which I think is (to say the least of it) counter-productive.

  6. Retired Prof: It was Paul who corrupted the message by harping continually on faith as the main duty of a Christian…

    Aside – I’m working my way slowly through Bart Ehrman’s latest book, and he mentions this several times. Ehrman’s opinion is that Paul was saying Christians don’t need to follow Jewish customs (like ‘no seafood,’) to be saved – not that they don’t need to do good deeds. And, furthermore, Ehrman thinks that most of the (later) writings attributed to Paul that imply ‘faith not works’ are forgeries.

  7. aturingtest, I like your phrase “a shift in the burden away from where it really belongs.”

    At the same time, I try to keep a tolerant attitude toward such people. Many of my relatives seem unable to bear the entire burden of building and supporting a world-view on their own. It’s simpler to adopt a prefabricated cosmological and ethical system and to posit in their minds a god to buttress it where its design flaws threaten to topple it. This will sound more condescending than I intend, but they seem a little like people who need a cane, or crutches, or a wheelchair to get around. It is safest not to scorn them without knowing what combination of inherited traits and environmental influences makes it hard for them to travel on their own.

    Let me use this analogy to support your attitude toward rights in the “name of god”: for believers to try to get atheists to adopt their world-view is comparable to a wheelchair rider telling pedestrians, “Hey, get off those feet and ride around the way I do!”

    See, I told you it was condescending. Sorry.

    The point is this: if believers could see unbelief as a way of navigating through life different from their own (incidentally opening up new routes) instead of as a perverse determination to wander at will through thickets of wickedness, we could all get along much better.

  8. Eric, thanks. I haven’t read Ehrman, but a couple of blogs I read have mentioned, with credible evidence, that those later epistles are forgeries. I should have written “the collection of writings attributed to Paul.”

    General aside: Boy, this blog sure does attract good commenters.

  9. Retired Prof says: “Boy, this blog sure does attract good commenters.”

    Without you guys, I’d just be another bozo babbling into the blogosphere.

  10. Retired Prof:
    Great analogy. ‘…for believers to try to get atheists to adopt their world-view is comparable to a wheelchair rider telling pedestrians, “Hey, get off those feet and ride around the way I do!”’
    The ones I object to are the ones who try to run you over with their wheelchairs, or the ones who want to put children (their own and others) in wheelchairs from the get-go.