Today’s letter-to-the-editor (like so many others) appears in the Shreveport Times of Shreveport, Louisiana. It’s titled: Putting fox in charge of henhouse. We don’t like to embarrass people (unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures), so we’ll omit the writer’s full name and city. We will mention that his first name is John, and he’s described as a “guest columnist.” We’ll give you a few excerpts from his letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis. Okay, here we go:
A poll taken in 1998 revealed that only 7 percent of the members of the National Academy of Sciences believed in a personal God. Biologists had the lowest rate of belief in God (5.5 percent). This number is dropping as it had fallen from 15 percent in 1933.
The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) discussed that poll here, Do Scientists Really Reject God?, and contrasted it with different results from a Gallup poll. NCSE attributes the discrepancy to the very different questions that were asked. But ol’ Hambo’s website had an article that, like John’s letter, doesn’t bother with such distinctions — see National Academy of Science is Godless to the Core – Survey. That’s probably where John got his information. Then he says:
Science has redefined itself to consider only naturalistic or godless explanations for any observed phenomena.
“Redefined”? As we’ve discussed before, the tradecraft of science is incapable of examining supernatural phenomena, so it’s limited in what it can research. Nevertheless, despite that limitation, science has — shall we say — a somewhat better track record for explaining things in ways that can be tested than theology does. Let’s read on:
It was not always so. Many great scientists practiced their science and found it compatible with their personal belief in an omnipotent God as their creator.
Yes. Isaac Newton saw no incompatibility between his laws of motion or his description of gravity and scripture. That’s because there’s nothing in scripture on those subjects. But whenever science discovered anything that was incompatible with scripture — such as in astronomy, geology, and biology — well, we all know how that plays out. The letter continues:
Today, however, a scientist who attributes anything to God is not considered a scientist. Scientific journals will not publish their papers.
Of course not. God-did-it isn’t an hypothesis that can be tested — or even understood — so it’s not science. Here’s more:
Evolution theory is the central tenet of atheism. It opines that all living things evolved from a single common ancestor via zillions of undirected mutations over eons of time. When Charles Darwin first published his theory, he acknowledged that it was speculative and lacked supporting evidence.
Balderdash! As Darwin carefully explained, all the evidence in the world up to that time was consistent with his theory. It still is. Moving along:
He blamed a woefully imperfect fossil record for the lack of supporting evidence. He predicted that future fossil finds would produce evidence of the missing zillions of transitional species that would form traceable chains from a very simple, single cell, common ancestor to all of the diversity of life that exists or has existed on this planet.
More balderdash! Darwin never predicted that a fossil showing every minute transition would — or could — be found. No one imagines that such could ever be done, yet creationists always demand it. Darwin did predict that additional transitional fossils would be found — and they have been. Once more we’ll link to Wikipedia’s list of transitional fossils. Another excerpt:
His prediction was wrong. The present massive fossil record now clearly reveals what was less clear in Darwin’s time, i.e. the abrupt appearance of fully developed species, all appearing within a relatively short period of time (the Cambrian Explosion). These species show no significant change from the time they appeared to the present, or the time they became extinct.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Everything appeared suddenly in the Cambrian Explosion, and nothing has changed since then! That’s not worth rebutting. On with the article:
Stasis is data. Science (real science) considers and interprets all data. The existence of a single species appearing abruptly, fully developed, is fatal to the single common ancestor premise of evolution theory.
No, it just means that where the fossil-diggers were looking, that’s all they found. The world is a big place, and aside from the inevitability of missing fossils that may exist a few miles away from a dig, only a minute fraction of things that once lived ever become fossilized. But John isn’t done yet:
Evolutionists ignore the fossil data. When science ignores massive amounts of conflicting data, it is no longer science. Evolution theory is an ideology (religion or non-religion) falsely labeled as science. The fossil record is the only data that can give supporting evidence to the theory, and it refutes rather than confirms it.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! No, it’s not the only data — there’s also DNA. But what creationist never admit — perhaps because they don’t comprehend it — is that even one transitional fossil contradicts creationism. If creationists ever sat down to think about their “theory,” instead of just drooling over it, they would realize that there’s a prediction that creationism makes — if animals were fully created in the beginning, then there shouldn’t be any transitionals. Ol’ Hambo’s website once tried to explain them away, unsuccessfully in our opinion — see AIG: Transitional Species Are Really “Mosaics”. They’ve avoided the subject ever since. Anyway, we’re getting near the end:
Linking science to a hypothesis that admittedly lacked supporting evidence when it was first proposed, and has since been clearly refuted by an abundance of evidence of abrupt appearance and stasis leaves a stain on all real science.
A stain! Egad! And now we come to the end:
From a theist or Christian perspective, allowing a field of science that is dominated and controlled by atheists to instruct young children is akin to leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse.
John does make one good point — if people like him were in charge of education, it would certainly be different. Nice letter, John!
Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.
The truly depressing thing is I’m sure this guy believes every word of his diatribe.
Yes, that’s the problem. We are dealing with “true believers” and nothing you or I or any one else can say will sway them from their warped view of the world. The only thing we can hope for is that some day in the future they will become extinct much like the Dodo bird.
“The only thing we can hope for is that some day in the future they will become extinct much like the Dodo bird.”
A well-known Cambrian resident.
In the comments section, the letter writer seems to be using Gould to defend his position. Someone more familiar with quote mining and Gould may want to check it out.
I spent 2 years+ (because of “Creationist Wisdom #146), along with several other people, refuting all of Johnny’s continual nonsense. It’s a hopeless endeavor. Byrd is young earth creationist and profound science illiterate whose mind will never be changed – evidence is meaningless to him. He can’t get his brain out of the “fossil mindset,” has no understanding of the actual fossil evidence, and has the annoying (and dishonest) habit of posting quote-mines from creationist cesspools. Providing him with the entire context (and meaning) of the quotes is a waste of time – after a week or so passes, he just reposts them as if they had never been called out. This is a person who will never concede that he knows absolutely nothing whatsoever about any discipline of science (evolutionary biology not an exception), has no understanding of what science is or how it is conducted and will argue endless that evolution is atheistic indoctrination. Of course, I’ve pointed out to him ad nauseam that he could say the same thing about all sub-branches of physics and chemistry, from which all biology is derived. Johnny just doesn’t see general physics and chemistry as the same attack on his precious dogma. Forever crazy in Louisiana!
Judging from SC’s experience (“Today’s letter-to-the-editor (like so many others) appears in the Shreveport Times of Shreveport, Louisiana”), Keelyn’s experience with John, and the fact that the Shreveport Times treats John as a “guest columnist”, it would seem that the Shreveport Times is a bastion of creationism.
Keelyn, I feel your pain! The editorial staff of the Shreveport Times are apparently too lazy, too stupid, or both, to distinguish between reality and the rantings of a scientifically illiterate kook. It constantly amazes me how ignorant bozos from backwater towns think they can overturn all of modern science.
Ditto what waldteufel said. To that I add, I wonder what John would say about a line-up of hominid skulls. Are they all human, do they seem to have progression of size and features? Or did a archaeologist just put them together in a set just to confuse people like him?
Oh, as creationist wisdom 404, there seems to be something missing. 🙂
Yes, retiredsciguy, Shreveport is a bastion of not only creationism, but ignorance in general. In much of the southern U.S., ignorance is celebrated as both a great Christian virtue and a patriotic virtue. Fondle your guns ‘n bible, and you’re admitted easily to the “in group”.
Hey, what do you expect when Shreveport is the buckle of the bible belt. We do have our disproportionate number of fundies who write letters to the editor. But I’ve been fighting the good fight for 36 years teaching genetics, molecular biology, and evolution at a local university. With the exception of the first two years I was here, I’ve had very few students challenge evolution over the years. Of course the way the state is cutting funding to our university systems, higher ed may be on the endangered list. And a lot of people in the state could care less. If the state was going to cut funding to the football teams, then we would see the complaints roll in. So maybe it’s “guns, ‘n bible, ‘n football.”
Aye, and there’s the rub. Substitute any supernatural/ incomprehensible/ ineffable/ mystical entity (including a complex unspecified designer) for “God” and the assertion remains equally valid.
But what is it about that elementary notion that foxes many people so? Besides extensive resort to the standard catalogue of cretinist canards as well as the presumptuous pretences to expertise, today’s incisive letter writer also exemplifies the sweaty paranoia permeating the cretinist corner. In their fevered minds, modern science is actively driven by one agenda alone, namely to refute their cherished religious beliefs. No amount of explaining seems capable of disabusing them of this infantile error, and so they keep making it. And doing the same thing repeatedly in the hope of a different outcome is the very essence of insanity.
Charles Deetz ;), the page was found but what’s missing is any good sense, therefore it’s not a True 404 Error™… 😛
Con-Tester reports back to Charles Deetz:
Correct. This condition here is known as the BSOD, or the Blithering Stupidity of a Dunce.
Biokid: “If the state was going to cut funding to the football teams, then we would see the complaints roll in.”
They will never cut funding to college football. It serves the purpose of distracting a good chunk of Americans while our government imprisons, murders, steals, and destroys the Earth in their name and for the benefit of a very small few.
Biokid: “If the state was going to cut funding to the football teams, then we would see the complaints roll in.”
The kids should be hear about the alternative rules for sports. The winning total in golf is the least – why not that in football? Let the kids decide the rules.
anevilmeme: “The truly depressing thing is I’m sure this guy believes every word of his diatribe.”
Oy, when does this end? How are you sure? Last I heard one needs to read minds to do that, and that reading minds is impossible. Don’t get me wrong, you may be 100% correct, but there’s just no way to be sure, especially when these people have an intense fear that is a strong motivation to pretend to believe what they know ain’t so.
Every word they utter exposes their paranoia, and the fact that their real objection to evolution has nothing to do with lack of “evidences,” let alone “evidences” for any of the mutually-contradictory “alternatives” that they desperately want their audience to believe.
Once an evolution-denier-on-the-street “graduates” to writing letters-to-the-editor they have taken the first step to becoming a full-fledged snake oil peddler. Certainly, like anyone addicted to instant gratification they will start out reading only what “feels good.” But at some point they can’t help noticing that some of it is flatly refuted, not by “atheists,” but by people who take “thou shalt not bear false witness” seriously (which includes many or most atheists of course). Innocent belief evolves into “noble lies.”
A bit off-topic, but having cited Ronald Bailey’s 1997 article for the ~1000th time in the last comment, I did a long-overdue check on his latest comments on creationism. Here is a recent one about the Ham-Nye debate. Please also watch the linked 11-minute video where he mocks the ID scam.
I should have added to my previous comment that the publisher and editors of the Shreveport Times must be creationists themselves, as evidenced by their willingness to publish so many mindless creationist rants.
Would it be possible for Our Curmudgeon to go through his archives to determine how many of the 404 examples of “Creationist Wisdom” are from this esteemed Fountainhead of TRVTH®?
Here ya go, not including the current one:
#385: Evolution Is Illegal
#217: Befuddled in Louisiana
#156: Wallowing with Hogs
#151: Louisiana Anger
#146: A Nation Divided
“if animals were fully created in the beginning, then there shouldn’t be any transitionals”
Such an unsophisticated strawman. As an experienced Dutch IDiot once explained me: ID doesn’t reject evolution, it rejects Darwinistic evolution. Caprice? No? Me neither.
@MG: “seems to be using Gould to defend his position”
So did that Dutch IDiot. No matter how many quotes coming from Gould we gave him, he insisted that Gould (and Eldridge) had falsified Darwinistic Evoltution and that hence “the Evolution Tree had fallen”.
I’ve been having some fun with Johnny Byrd in the comments section. He’s now offended by my “style.”
He’s quite a blowhard, our Johnny, and he doesn’t like being called a blowhard and laughed at. Too bad that’s my style.
Thanks, Curmy, for the list of “Creationist Wisdom” letters and “guest columnist” articles that appeared in the Shreveport Times.
They were all written by John Byrd. They started calling him a “guest columnist” with #385 (or sooner, if you happened to miss any).
I don’t think you have to worry about embarrassing this guy by naming him as the author of any future rants, any more than you worry about embarrassing Klinghoffer. By the way, for all who may be interested, his
mug shotphoto appears with the current letter, #404, and #385 as well. He looks like a very determined creationist.
Johnny-cake is your typical authoritarian creationist. All he knows is what somebody said, which he quotes ad nauseum. He can’t address the simplest question.
One of his bright reposts was this: “I don’t think I mentioned God. Maybe I did, or inferred something, but the subject was evolution theory. ”
I never mentioned it but maybe I did or inferred it. Wow, sounds like a future Disco Tute fellow!
Turns out he mentioned God in his first sentence! And the second. And the third. And the sixth. And the seventh.
Clueless and no self-awareness. Perfect Tooter. Sign him up, Westie!
docbill1351: “Clueless and no self-awareness. Perfect Tooter.”
Tooters lack the “gene” for embarrassment (I wish I did too), as evidenced by Behe’s performance at Dover. If that’s what you mean by “no self awareness” I agree 100%. But “clueless”?? See my comment to anevilmeme above. My guess – with the caveat that I can’t read minds any more than anyone else – is that Tooters – the professionals if not their wannabes – are even less clueless than we are. They are always in “sales mode,” and almost always know when to play “don’t ask, don’t tell,” or bait-and-switch. Always on a mission to promote unreasonable doubt, and more importantly exploit the public’s willingness to believe that scientists are “conspiring” against them. “Expelled” was their way of saying “yeah, we know we don’t have a better explanation, so ‘Darwin-Hitler is all we have left.”
If the DI was serious about either having found some designer or that evolution had “gaps” their few scientists would have been falling all over each other for the last 20 years testing their claims. By now, we’d know exactly all the “what happened whens,” and it would include ~4 billion years of life, which “kinds” share common ancestors and which don’t. The only reasons that they keep retreating from such golden opportunities are because (1) they know that the evidence does not support any of the mutually-contradictory fairy tales that they hope their audience infers (and hopes that they remain oblivious to the fatal contradictions), and (2) we let them.
Frank, I think the Disco ‘Tuters exhibit two great sins: they are boring, and absolutely humorless. Well, to be sure, those aren’t their worst sins — just annoying ones.
There may be hope for Shreveport! Johnny-cakes is getting totally beat up on the comment thread. Multiple attackers and NO supporters. He’s all by his own self, poor baboo.
After reading all the comments in the thread at the Shreveport Times website and John Byrd’s responses, I now fully understand Keelyn’s comment near the top of this (SC’s) thread.
John Byrd is a real piece of work. It’s hard to understand why the Shreveport Times puts up with him — unless, as I implied earlier, the publisher and editors are themselves creationists.
(Note to docbill and Diogenes: You two make a good tag team!)
waldteufel declares the Disco’Tooters are
Well, yes, but they nonetheless manage, at one and the same time, also to be unintentionally hilarious.
And they can’t even afford to be proud of it! Thumbrule: the more sour they get, the funnier they are.
Just thought of who (or what) John Byrd’s photo reminds me of — the Muppet’s “Sam the Eagle”.
(I’ve not had much luck embedding links, so just Google it. You’ll get more pictures that way, as well.)
Pope RSG: Allow me to help you out, my liege.
Of John Byrd, Pope Retiredsciguy wonders
It’s a good question. Perhaps they are Yankee carpetbaggers who get a kick out of making Southerners appear pig ignorant?
In any event, it is now clear to me why one never hears about “village idiots” anymore. They’ve been re-branded as “guest columnists.”
I see John is still going strong. 147 comments and steadily rising. He will go on for months (literally) so long as someone provides him an audience by replying to his claptrap.
It’s not at all surprising that he is recycling his “I gotcha with Gould” quote mines again. I recall spending several months going back and forth with the crackpot, explaining in detail to him the Gould/Eldredge P.E. hypothesis and that he didn’t have the slightest understanding what they were proposing. It was like throwing a rubber ball at a brick wall – easy to hit the target, but impossible to make it penetrate. When the evidence became too overwhelming for him to argue (even in his delusional mind), he would abruptly play the “change the subject” game. A few weeks later, it would be back to Gould and P.E., as if the previous exchange had never occurred. It was infuriating.
Johnny loves to dig up the creationist quote mines from deceased scientists – you cannot write to them for their latest views. He is slightly more reluctant when the authors are still in the land of living. I amassed such a library of books on biology, paleontology, and geology, just to keep up with all of Byrd’s quote mines, I was tempted at one point to change my major from physics to biology. I suppose I should thank him that – I have a lot of books I normally wouldn’t have purchased. And that includes Gould’s 1400 page “The Structure Of Evolutionary Theory.” This isn’t the first time that John has done the “I just returned this to the library” shtick. That’s an old trick. I told him more than once that I expected that in the interim of checking a book out of the library and returning it, he should read and understand it – apparently, that action wasn’t necessarily considered a part of the program. I even went to the extent of informing Niles Eldredge, Henry Gee, and Steve Matheson, on their respective websites how Byrd was mischaracterizing and misrepresenting their work. Johnny didn’t like the responses I received back, dismissed them as “I can’t be sure they said that. They need to tell me to my face.” Matheson actually took John up on the offer, posted directly to him the forum that he was blithering idiot who had no idea what he was talking about. Byrd told him that he (Matheson) was confused and didn’t understand his own material. How’s that for unmitigated gall and arrogance?
I collected dozens of Johnny’s ramblings from those forums and saved them in Word docs for future reference. I gave up on Johnny long ago – his recycled ramblings into the realms of the insane is a perennial preoccupation with him. I am normally content to let the grossly stupid, like Byrd, have their say – they are not in a position of influence. Unfortunately, there are many other “ByrdBrains” in the public sector who are in positions of education (particularly science education) policy making. These are the loons and nitwits that have to be called out on their ignorance at every opportunity. Regretfully, my studies and family responsibilities rarely allow me the time to argue with the Bible-bangers anymore. It’s good that others have taken the torch. You better have a lot of kerosene (a personal refinery, perhaps?) on hand if you are going up against the Johnny Byrd(brain).
“Just thought of who (or what) John Byrd’s photo reminds me of — the Muppet’s “Sam the Eagle”.”
He always has reminded me of Lou Grant (Ed Asner) on that old Mary Tyler Moore show. My dad used to watch that.
I’ve run across the “returned the book to the library” from other creationists, too. Seriously, who goes to a library these days? (Please send your comments to this statement to “Brian Williams, NBC News, New York.”)
I, too, have more books on biology and paleontology than I would have otherwise by dealing with creationists and that’s the one positive thing that has come out of these interactions.
With some creationists I’ve started using a new tactic. I turn the question back on them. So, when Johnny says, “What about stasis?” I fire back, “OK, what about it?” and that usually stops them cold because they have no knowledge whatsoever of what they are proposing. The simplest question back penetrates their thin veneer to reveal nothing underneath.
Johnny flounced, by the way, with the old creationist, “I have other things to do” having spent two days writing thousands of words. Right.
@Keelyn: Yes, there’s a strong physical resemblance. However, Ed Asner and John Byrd are on opposite ends of the political spectrum as well as the smarts scale.
Now, Sam the Patriotic Eagle, on the other hand… well, just watch the video clip Gary graciously posted above and you will never again be able to read a John Byrd posting without hearing “Sam the Eagle”. (Thanks, Gary! that was the perfect clip.)
Keelyn — do you (or anyone else, for that matter) know what Johnny did (or does) for a living? What’s his background? I just wonder if he has a financial interest in a private school receiving vouchers. The way he denigrates public education makes me suspicious.
I believe he is currently retired. He was employed by the IRS as a back-taxes collector. These days …well, these days you see one of the things he does!
Oh, he is also a “lawyer” – or at least, he thinks he is. He managed to “win” a court challenge for a relative (he prepared some documents) that was an obviously case of discrimination. Now he thinks he is ready for the SCOTUS.
@Keelyn writes: “Matheson actually took John up on the offer, posted directly to him the forum that he was blithering idiot who had no idea what he was talking about. Byrd told him that he (Matheson) was confused and didn’t understand his own material.”
I would lurv, lurv to see that link.
I would love to provide you with the links. Unfortunately, the Times decided to cancel their “Religious Forums” section (I think it was costing them too much data space) where these “debates” took place around the same time they instituted “Facebook Only” comments to their Opinion Section. When the forums were canceled, all the content was deleted with them. I don’t know if I may have copied any of it to Word docs – I would have to search through dozens. I know that John lost the friendship and support of two of his most staunch original supporters, in part because of the Matheson episode – they finally saw the light of Byrd’s outright lying and quote mining (in addition to some major disagreements of dogma). It is a bit past my bedtime at the moment, but when time allows I will sift through the Word docs I have and see what I can retrieve. Again, any links to the actual content is gone. Blame the Times – it was their decision.
I have been lured in by Johnny’s ramblings too. I had backed off for a while and recently got sucked back in.
Anyway, recently I asked Johnny if he realized that the Shreveport Times was patronizing him. I wasn’t trying to be funny as I really believe they are. The Times are defintely “Left Leaning” in comparison to most of the citizens in Shreveport/Bossier and they get a lot of flack about it. I believe they continue to post his letters simply because he drives traffic to their site. And, because they completely disagree with his Stone Age interpretation(s), what better way to insure that bright young minds are made aware of how ludicrous opinions such as Johnny’s really are.
There is no way for me to really know but I suspect The Times is throwing Johnny under the bus and giving him enough rope to hang his theories.