Creationist Wisdom #302: Sherlock Holmes

You know about Arizona’s 2013 “Academic Freedom” Bill. It’s a typical anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism bill modeled after the Academic Freedom Act promoted by the Discovery Institute. We’ve already critiqued their model bill (and explained how to defeat it) here: Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws.

The new bill is SB 1213. That’s the link for tracking its progress through the legislature. We just looked and nothing’s happened since it was assigned to the Education and the Rules committees. There’s plenty of time for the state to go officially insane. The legislature isn’t scheduled to adjourn until “late April.”

Meanwhile, the thing has received some support in the press. In the Arizona Daily Star of Tucson, Arizona there’s a guest column titled Bill would encourage critical thinking . It’s by Randal S. Kinkade, who has some degree of prominence in creationist circles. Here’s his page at Amazon describing his writings.

Kinkade’s column is every bit as goofy as the others in our “Creationist Wisdom” series, so even though the newspaper seems to take it seriously, we’ll treat it as if it were just another letter-to-the-editor penned by the typical maniac in a shack. However, there’s no need in this case for our customary discretion in omitting the writer’s name. At the end of the column we’re told: “Randal S. Kinkade is an author, a Christian and a Vail School District Governing Board member.” Egad, this guy is on the school board! Okay, let’s get going. Here are a few excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis:

In his guest opinion on SB 1213 Wednesday, Gil Shapiro boldly states, “religion has no place in the science classroom.” Many of the standard tired reasons are used to indicate why, but I feel we need to start at the beginning.

This is the letter to which he’s referring: Senate bill is an end run to get religion into Arizona public schools. It’s pretty good. At the end it says: “Gil Shapiro, a Tucson podiatrist, is the spokesman for FreeThought Arizona and a member of the board of advisers of the Secular Coalition for Arizona.” Let’s return now to today’s column:

There seems to be an assumption that science has developed the answer to how this universe began. Though there is some controversy about it, I will use the Big Bang Theory to fit my point into the allowed space. A pea-sized particle of supercondensed matter exploded and became what we know as the universe. Oversimplified, I admit, but science has yet to come up with a truly plausible explanation from where the pea-sized chunk came.

How many major blunders can you find in that one paragraph, dear reader? He equates the theory of evolution with the Big Bang; he greatly overstates the size of the primordial singularity; and as creationists always do, he demands that a theory must explain more than it was intended to explain. Further, he assumes that if ultimate origins aren’t explained to his satisfaction, then his theory of Oogity Boogity is a valid scientific competitor. Let’s read on:

Science must develop all of its conclusions based on nature. All of our solid scientific laws describe and define nature. This is good and right, but how did the first chunk of matter get here? The scientific method cannot get us there because we can’t set it up to observe the end result. Without that our conclusions are speculation not science.

Beware, kiddies — this is your brain on creationism. The letter continues:

To quote Sherlock Holmes, “When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” It is not impossible, naturalistic presuppositions aside, that our cause came from outside our natural world. It is impossible that first there was nothing and then it exploded to become our universe.

Aaaargh!! That’s the first time we’ve seen Sherlock Holmes quoted to justify creationism. However, Holmes would probably look at Kinkade in stunned amazement, and say: “My good fellow, unless you have some evidence, when we have excluded the impossible then we have, ipso facto, excluded supernatural causes.” Here’s more from today’s genius:

We need a bill such as SB 1213 to allow for our young minds to get us around a problem we have been working with for quite some time. If our first scientific premise is flawed then it stands to reason that those that follow have a high potential also to contain flaws.

Yeah, right. Moving along:

No matter how improbable each one seems to you, which one of the next two choices is truly impossible: First there was nothing and it exploded to become our universe or in the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Nice set of ridiculous alternatives. What’s the fallacy here — false dichotomy, straw-man, poisoning the well? Call it what you will. And now we come to the end:

Let’s give our students a chance to bring critical thought to the question. If we stop stacking the deck with presuppositions I believe an unbiased generation will have no choice but to end up with the truth. I’m willing to take that risk to my belief system.

We can’t think of anything to add. The column has already received 70 comments, and a brief scan indicates that lots of people in Arizona think Kinkade is a wacko. That’s good to see.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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9 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #302: Sherlock Holmes

  1. I’m willing to take that risk to my belief system.

    Yeah, right.

  2. Charles Deetz ;)

    Wow, I’m immediately reminded of how I felt as a kid when I heard the creation story … ‘so where did God come from, and the matter that he used to make the universe.’ It would keep me up at night, even. And has thorough as is letter is (snark), any other reader must immediately have the same reaction. Even the writer’s wife must have asked him about it when she proofread the commentary for him.

    Seriously, if all they’ve got it how did the Universe start, and how did life start, I think the rational sciences are winning.

  3. “If we stop stacking the deck with presuppositions I believe an unbiased generation will have no choice but to end up with the truth.”

    Right, absolutely. And the first presupposition we’ve got to take out of the deck is the creator card.

  4. Ah yes the ” its either evolution or magic ” flawed argument,
    God of the Gaps all the way.

  5. It appears that all of these organized arguers against evolution realize that there is a huge body of evidence supporting evolution, so they are doing a bait-and-switch. They are trying to convince the public that evolution is an attempt to explain creation — which, of course, it isn’t.

    We must be proactive against this deceptive line of false reasoning. First, we must state clearly that “evolution” is merely a statement of the observation that examination of the fossil record (for example) indicates that life forms have changed over time.

    Secondly, Darwin proposed that it is natural selection that has driven this evolution. The Theory of Evolution makes no attempt to explain the origins of life, but rather the origins of species.

    Thirdly, it’s absurd to even imply that Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection has ANYTHING to say about the origin of the universe!
    Furthermore, anyone making such a claim knows it’s false, and therefore is a deliberate liar.

    Therefore, Mr. Randal S. Kinkade, you are a liar.

  6. retiredsciguy says: “Therefore, Mr. Randal S. Kinkade, you are a liar.”

    Let’s be fair. It’s possible that he’s not intentionally lying. He may be a sincere fool.

  7. Curmy, that’s saying he’s being a sincere bait-and-switcher. Surely Kinkade, as “an author, a Christian and a Vail School District Governing Board member”, knows that the Theory of Evolution is not the Big Bang Theory. I wouldn’t cut him any slack. Besides, his writing style is not that of a fool, sincere or otherwise.

  8. Charles Deetz ;)

    Actually, I’ss say he doesn’t know the difference. In the same way as some conservatives call Obama a marxist, socialist, communist, muslim, etc. No real understanding of the difference and details of the opposition. It is ‘the other’ that they lump all of it together, without cognitively analyzing what it is exactly. In other words, its a ‘tell’ of their cognitive dissonance.

  9. Ceteris Paribus

    Kinkade may envision himself as a Crusader against the sins of science and rationality being taught in his public schools, but as a mere school board member he has set his ambitions way too low. Needs to get himself elected to the state legislature and appointed to their committee on education where the real work is done.

    The Kansas house is setting another great example of how theocrats can get their Godly deeds done wholesale at the state level rather that retailing the work out to local school boards.

    Take a look at the bills that popped up just in the last week or so in the Kansas House Committee on Education:

    KS HB2289 – “Prohibiting the use of [national] common core standards.”[self explanatory]

    KS HB2350 – “Removing the authority to receive certain federal aid for educational purposes.” [can you say, oh, maybe “microscopes” as were funded by the communist infiltrated Eisenhower administration in the guise of the “National Defense Education Act” {emphasis added)?]

    KS HB2306 -“School districts; course of instruction; science.” [the requisite catch-all critical thinking anti-science bill]

    KS HB2232 – “Providing professional liability insurance to teachers.” [state pays for liability insurance against damages for “any tortious conduct of such teachers” who, what, maybe copy the recent science classroom experiment of a science teacher using a Tesla coil to engrave crosses on the bare arms of his students?]

    KS HB2349 – “School districts; audit by legislative post audit committee.” [not a financial audit; Kansas wants the legislature to conduct “school district efficiency audits” {emphasis added} on three school districts of the legislature’s choice each year. “Nobody ever expects the Spanish Inquisition”]

    If interested, you can find a listing of these legislative delights and still more of what the state of Kansas Brownbackistan thinks is good for their public schools at http://legiscan.com/gaits/sponsor/6751