Creationist Wisdom #263: The Engineer

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the News Star of Monroe, Louisiana. The letter is titled Engineer doubts evolution theory. We’ll give you a few excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis. As we usually do we’ll omit the writer’s name and city. Okay, here we go:

Oh, I know better than to wander off into this subject, but I just can’t help myself. It seems that previously people could have disagreements without one side proclaiming that the other side must be stupid. What set me off recently is the argument over creationism versus evolution. It has reached the point that if you believe in creationism then your are just a dumb yokel, but if you believe in evolution you are an enlightened scientist. Also, schools that allow both are definitely dumb and below acceptable standards.

Yes, that’s the way of it. So what does today’s letter-writer bring to the table? Stay with us, dear reader. The letter continues:

Now let’s see, the last I knew evolution was known as Darwin’s theory, because Darwin went off to a chain of islands and after studying things concluded that all creatures started from basically the same point and evolved into higher and higher creatures.

That’s the last thing this guy knew? Then this should be fun. Let’s read on:

Now, I don’t deny that evidence exists that some evolution does take place. I once read that a noted scientist, and I forget his name right now, said that the best way to prove a theory correct was to assume that it was wrong and see if you could find evidence that it was wrong. If failing to find any, this supported the fact that the theory was probably right.

Well, that doesn’t prove anything, but it’s true that if one wants to challenge an established theory, he’s obligated to produce some evidence that it’s wrong. Does today’s letter-writer have such evidence? His letter continues:

In my ignorance I find some reason to doubt that the human race could have possibly lived long enough to go through the evolution that produced the race. To just cover one point of doubt, since the digestive system requires acid, how could the race have survived long enough for the digestive system to evolve. It seems to me that because evolution is so slow that the race would have died off.

Ah — the letter-writer imagines that our ancestral species lacked the ability to digest its food. That’s one we haven’t seen before, so we’ll give this guy credit for being original. Here’s more:

Further, how did the race determine that the needed acid was hydrochloric? Then I guess evolution had the wisdom to figure out how to produce this acid, and there are many more similar questions that could be asked. But then, we are not to ask, only to accept.

No, one may always ask. But first it’s advisable to think. Then ask. That’s how to avoid looking foolish. Moving along:

Now I wasn’t there when man was created, so I can’t give a first-hand account. I do believe that enough complexity exists to allow me to ask if this could have happened by chance rather than having an advanced and intelligent designer. Just dumb old me I guess, but I am not ready to say to God “You didn’t build this.”

The final paragraph is the best part:

So I guess I’ll just have to continue to be labeled as ignorant. I had hoped that a degree in engineering would have helped me escape that label.

No, in this case it wasn’t enough.

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

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14 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #263: The Engineer

  1. Retired Prof

    “Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.”
    –Will Rogers

  2. Jim Thomerson

    If you feed a Paramecium with some pH indicator dye included, you will see that the food vacuoles first go acid, then go basic, then dump the undigested remains outside the cell. Looks like that sequence of digestive activity of fairly widespread.

  3. No degree helps you escape that label. Not pronouncing on subjects of which you are ignorant is what helps you escape that label.

  4. This guy is so close it’s frustrating! Maybe read a few books or ask those questions to a biologist. A degree in engineering wont make you any less ignorant about biology.

  5. OK, here’s what I don’t understand about these perennial letters to the editor:

    The Discovery Institute, AIG, and their kind are forever whining that ‘only’ Darwin is taught in American schools.

    But the frequency of letters such as these make me doubt if ‘even’ Darwin is taught in American schools.

    ‘Tis very difficult to take seriously anyone’s ‘refutation’ of something they clearly have no notion about whatsoever.


  6. @megalonyx You can lead a horse to water…

  7. The letter writer said:

    So I guess I’ll just have to continue to be labeled as ignorant.

    Nope, you’re not ignorant. Apparently, you know the facts. You just cannot use any logic or reason to turn those facts into understanding or knowledge. That means you are stupid.
    Now stop giving us engineers a bad name, you moron.

  8. Ceteris Paribus

    The befuddled engineer notes: “Now I wasn’t there when man was created, so I can’t give a first-hand account.”

    A true enough grounds for invoking the ignorance defense when needed. But by the current fundamentalist teaching of when human life begins, he would be fully qualified to give a first-hand account of that singular event.

    You suppose if he were pressed on the subject, he would would be able to prove that his father is who he claims to be. Or maybe it was just a friend of the family?

  9. retiredsciguy

    @Gary: “Now stop giving us engineers a bad name, you moron.”

    Kinda thought this guy would elicit a comment from you, Gary. I surely hope he didn’t get his degree from our alma mater.

  10. Did this guy flunk General Chemistry?

    I guess I don’t really need to ask.

  11. RSG said:

    I surely hope he didn’t get his degree from our alma mater.

    Me, too. If he is an alum, we need to contact our other alums and have him summarily dismissed for “Idiocy Above and Beyond the Call of Stupidity”. And for making us (both engineers generally and Boilermakers specifically) look bad.
    Here’s a question, though: How do we know he’s an engineer? It dawned on me while reading a Panda’s Thumb thread that lots of people who want to argue against evolution science will use “engineer” as their title. That way, they don’t have to claim to know or understand actual biology or hard-core science. But they have juuuuuust enough street cred with the yokels to impress them.

  12. retiredsciguy

    @Gary: “How do we know he’s an engineer?”

    Yeah, maybe he runs a train.

  13. retiredsciguy says: “Yeah, maybe he runs a train.”

    In The Honeymooners, Ralph Kramden’s neighbor, sewer worker Ed Norton, described himself as an engineer.

  14. Giggling at all comments. Sounds like he might be a sermon engineer.

    The stomach acid-evolution conundrum reminds me of the creationist who asked Richard Dawkins how an evolving being would be able to take a leak if he had to wait millions of years before the system was complete.

    Just found a clip of Richard Dawkins doing a fireside hate-mail reading on YouTube. Hilarious.