Creationist Wisdom #253: Computer Engineer

One of our clandestine operatives alerted us to today’s letter-to-the-editor. It appears in The Advocate of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the title is ‘Macroevolution’ impossible.

The letter is signed by Charles H. Voss, Jr., Emeritus Kaiser Aluminum Professor, Baton Rouge. We found his webpage: Dr. Charles H. Voss, Jr. He’s a retired professor of electrical and computer engineering, and as you will see, he’s a fine example of the Salem Hypothesis, according to which engineering types — and that often includes computer scientists — have a tendency toward the creationist viewpoint.

We have even more information about the author. According to this article by Barbara Forrest:

[Voss is] a longtime creationist who is well known among creationist-watchers for his mischief-making in our state. In September 2009, working with the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), an affiliate of Focus on the Family, Voss was instrumental in persuading the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to adopt a creationist-friendly procedure for reviewing complaints about the use of creationist supplementary materials in public schools.

Forrest’s article has a couple of more paragraphs about him which you’ll want to check out, but we’ve given you enough background for now. Here are a few excerpts from Voss’s letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis:

Textbooks, in general, use the word “evolution” to cover two very different concepts — both small and large changes in organisms. This is not scientific, since small changes, microevolution or adaptation, and the large changes necessary for molecules-to-man evolution (macroevolution) fit under entirely different concepts of science.

Although it’s spiced up with Ken Ham’s very recognizable “molecules-to-man” slogan, that’s the same old micro-macro mambo we see all the time, and we’ve discussed it in Common Creationist Claims Confuted. Let’s see what else Voss has for us:

Darwin falsely assumed that natural selection explained all evolution. Natural selection can and does explain microevolution but not macroevolution because it cannot add information to the DNA.

Oooooooh! Information. Let’s read on:

Mutations can add info to the genome but the likelihood of it being beneficial is less than 1 in 100. However, it will not be passed on unless the mutation occurs in the reproductive part of the organism.

Wow — only mutations with information that occur in the gonads will get passed on. We’ve never seen that argument before. The letter continues:

Evolution is claimed to be a fundamental building block of science. This is not true. Examination of textbooks reveals that evolution is not essential to the understanding of the rest of the material in the book.

He’s right. You don’t need to know evolution to appreciate all the pretty pictures. Here’s more:

Fields such as medicine, health care, engineering, practical agronomy, horticulture, and geology are not concerned with evolution.

That’s true of engineering, as the author’s career so strikingly demonstrates. As for the rest, well, let’s just move along:

It is known that billions of years are needed for macroevolution to be true. Recognize that only 10 percent of the indicators of the Earth’s age give an old age, while 90 percent indicate an earth too young for macroevolution to take place.

The evidence is 90-10 in favor of young earth? That’s something else we’ve never seen before. We’re skipping a lot, but here’s how it ends:

All I ask is that the whole truth be taught in the classroom.

The truth? Louisiana can’t handle the truth!

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

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8 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #253: Computer Engineer

  1. Hi, Dr. Voss! I only have a masters in electrical and computer engineering, but as one ECE to another, I have a few questions for ya.
    #1) If micro and macroevolution are two entirely different concepts, how do you explain the diversity of life on the planet? What happened when to explain this diversity? And what evidence do you have to back up your assertions?
    #2) How do you define “information” in the context of DNA? How did DNA itself arise?
    #3) You state, “Mutations can add info to the genome but the likelihood of it being beneficial is less than 1 in 100.” Can you show me your probability equation? A Venn diagram would be greatly appreciated.
    #4) You state, “Examination of textbooks reveals that evolution is not essential to the understanding of the rest of the material in the book.” To what textbooks are you referring? If the textbook is one on physics, I would agree with you. The same if it was a math textbook, or perhaps even history (though the history of how the theory of evolution, uh, “evolved” is a fascinating one). But what of biology?
    #5) You further claim that you can understand the field of medicine without understanding evolution. What medical training do you have that you can make this claim? (NOTE: If you state, “I’m an EMT”, that’s a failing grade right there. I, too, was an EMT which means “basic life support”, not highly-skilled, highly-trained doctors who have to have a MUCH larger and deeper understanding of chemistry and biology.)
    #6) You further state, “Recognize that only 10 percent of the indicators of the Earth’s age give an old age, while 90 percent indicate an earth too young for macroevolution to take place.” What are the “90 percent indicate” pieces of evidence? Citations, please.

    Since all of your statements are nothing more than attacks on the theory of evolution, please do us all the favor of giving us your theory of how we came to be the way we are. What happened and when, in what order, and what evidence do you have that backs up your claim? (NOTE: Use of the Holy Bible is disallowed since that would be religious, and the LSEA (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more!) does not allow that to be used.) As I’m sure you state on all of your exams, “Answers must be brief, concise and specific.” This is a test you don’t want to fail. Good luck!

  2. Jim Thomerson

    I do fish taxonomy and systematics. My understanding of microevolution is about the same as that of most evolutionary biologists. I think speciation is macroevolution. I think the diversity of life on earth is the result of many speciation events, and many extinction events. Hutchinson’s evolutionary play on the ecological stage. I am unaware of anyone discussing genusization, or familyization, or orderization, etc. I doubt this is how creationists view macroevolution. I wonder what other evolutionary biologists think.

  3. will Fraser

    I just read The Tree of Life
    compiled and illustrated by Peter Sis, a brilliant
    introduction to Darwin. Delightful.
    Joe Voss was a famous WW II US Marine Corps
    fighter ace in the Pacific. No relation to the
    letter writer. One mastered himself and aerodynamics. The other mentally mastered ,,,
    trolling , no that’s not it, soliloquy , no that’s not
    It,,, uh,,,baiting. That’s it.Master debating.
    A giant among men Voss is. And his knowledge
    of geology. Wow. Words fail me Curmudgeon.
    Lyell would be amazed. I certainly am.

  4. @Will Fraser: Actually, that was Joe *Foss* who was the WWII Marine pilot (and receiver of the Medal of Honor for his actions in same). Still, even though you got the name wrong, I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment.
    “Master debater”… BWAHAHAHAHA!

  5. Joe Foss distinguished himself many ways postwar too. If we’re talking about flying aces: there was a Werner Voss who was one of the top scoring German aces of the First World War. He was an exceptional pilot and was given one of the first two Fokker triplanes to reach the front. He was killed Sept. 23, 1917 fighting superbly for a relatively long time against overwhelming odds.

  6. ack…. relativeLY long time…. relative long time is what happens doing the holidays.

  7. Thanks for correcting my typo, Curmie. My second post makes no sense now lol.

    Voss fought for ten minutes against a flight of many of Britain’s top aces and nearly shot all of them down! More than once he was the highest airplane in the fight and could have escaped using the Fokker Triplane’s superior rate of climb, but he repeatedly dove back in and put holes into all of the British planes (severely damaging several) before he was wounded and flew straight and level long enough to be brought down.

    This reminds me of the way I am drawn into the creationist controversy. Sure I could ignore it and let them destroy the science education of American schoolchildren, possibly dooming our country, species and even planet, but I keep diving back into the fray.

    What’s sad is while I am fighting the good fight for truth, justice and the American way, those who deny the fact of evolution sincerely believe they are the ones fighting for truth, justice and the American way. How can so many people continue to be so misinformed about basic facts of reality when they have access to the summation of mankind’s knowledge at their fingertips 24/7 in today’s information age? To me this is more shameful than if one lived several hundred years ago and thought the earth was flat. There is no excuse today for such abysmal ignorance.

  8. TheBicyclingGuitarist says: “There is no excuse today for such abysmal ignorance.”

    That is why they deserve all the ridicule I can heap upon them — without resorting to slander, of course.