Creationist Wisdom #416: Plausible Explanation

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Star Press of Muncie, Indiana — the home town of Ball State University. The title is ID should be included in science instruction.

We don’t like to embarrass people (unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures), so we’ll just use the letter-writer’s first name, which is Kevin. Here are a few excerpts from his letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Okay, let’s go:

Darwinian evolution has been a theory in crisis for several decades, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to people such as Eugenie Scott, spokeswoman for the National Center for Science Education. Despite much discussion of significant problems with evolutionary theory in the relevant scientific literature, Scott insists that there are “no weaknesses in the theory of evolution.” She’s either incredibly ignorant or, more likely, being dishonest.

Kevin knows how go get our attention with a strong beginning. Hang on, dear reader, this looks like a great letter. Then Kevin says:

The late Harvard paleontologist Stephen J. Gould declared in 1990 that neo-Darwinism “is effectively dead, despite its persistence as textbook orthodoxy.”

Wow! That’s an obscenely mined quote which has been making the rounds for years, previously debunked by John Pieret here at his blog. Let’s read on:

Having been indoctrinated with the false belief that science must produce only naturalistic explanations, many view ID theory as nonscience or pseudoscience simply because it postulates the existence of an Intelligent Designer.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s precisely the problem with intelligent design (ID) — it postulates the existence of an Intelligent Designer. Kevin continues:

If science detects evidence of intelligent design in nature, such as the biological information encoded in DNA, why should that evidence be deemed inadmissible in the realm of scientific inquiry?

That’s another problem with ID. Although DNA is the subject of intense scientific research, no evidence has been detected that it’s the artificial work of a designer. Here’s more:

When the Big Bang theory was first proposed, more than a few scientists expressed opposition to it, not because it was nonscientific but because it implied the existence of a Creator. It’s the same with ID theory. Scientists who are philosophically committed to materialism oppose the theory on the basis of its implications, not because it is nonscientific or lacks the support of empirical evidence.

There was some confused reaction to the Big Bang theory, initially, but the supporting evidence has resulted in the theory’s overwhelming acceptance. And whatdaya know — today it’s the creationists who oppose the Big Bang. ID can enjoy such acceptance too — as soon as its advocates produce some evidence. Until then, the designer will have to share a room with the Tooth Fairy and the Grim Reaper. Moving along:

Science cannot discover or determine how life originated, whether naturally or supernationally [sic]. The most it can do is provide a reasonable explanation based on observable phenomena.

Kevin’s statement is almost acceptable, because: (a) we certainly can’t discover how life originated supernaturally; and (b) a demonstrable natural method hasn’t yet been discovered. What’s a statement that borders on being reasonable doing in his letter? Ah, the rest of Kevin’s paragraph is what he assumes is an equally reasonable statement:

The most plausible explanation for the origin of life is intelligent design (even former atheist Antony Flew thinks so), and there is no valid reason to exclude it from science education.

Antony Flew embraced deism and expressed some support for ID when he was in his 80s, near the end of his life. But even if he were still alive, intellectual vigorous, and a full-blown Discoveroid, one philosopher’s opinion (or a thousand philosophers’ opinions) is no substitute for verifiable evidence. We’ve never understood why an inexplicable miracle is considered a “plausible” explanation — let alone “the most plausible” explanation — for anything. Another excerpt:

Separation of church and state has been cited as one reason to keep ID out of science courses, as if it were some sort of religious doctrine that teachers would be imposing on students merely by introducing it as an alternative to the creation myth favored by evolutionists.

But ID definitely is “some sort of religious doctrine.” Kevin even admits that in his next sentence:

Though admittedly compatible with biblical teaching, ID is no more a religious doctrine than the theory evolution, and discussing its merits in the science classroom would be no more an imposition on students than evolution.

Lordy, lordy. Can you imagine trying to have a conversation with someone like Kevin? On with his letter:

While civil government has no authority to reach into the spiritual realm and dictate to men how they should worship God, the notion that public schools and state-supported universities would be violating separation of church and state by allowing ID to be included in their science instruction is beyond ridiculous.

“Beyond ridiculous”? Not when one examines the creationist origins of ID, which were clearly demonstrated in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. The letter still has a long way to go, so we’ll have to skip a bit. Oh — this is not only original, it’s fantastic:

John T. Scopes, the teacher who was accused of violating a Tennessee law prohibiting the teaching of evolution, said at the 1925 Scopes trial: “Education, you know, means broadening, advancing, and if you limit a teacher to only one side of anything the whole country will eventually have only one thought, be one individual. I believe in teaching every aspect of every problem or theory.” Amen!

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! No creationist in our experience has ever quote-mined John Scopes before. And now we come to the end:

In my view, educators should be required to present all the scientific theories concerning life’s origins, or else be required to abandon the topic altogether. Fairness dictates nothing less.

Hey, Kevin: Ignoring the question of life’s origins — which is not yet known — evolution is the only scientific theory being taught in biology because it’s the only one there is. You’ll understand that if you ever learn what a scientific theory is. Until then, keep writing your letters. They’re very amusing.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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11 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #416: Plausible Explanation

  1. Kev says: “…many view ID theory as nonscience…”

    Nonscience has the word science in it, so I object to even that. I view ID theory as nonsense.

    Subtle difference.

  2. All of Kevin’s frothy spittle-flecked invective comes down to Kevin being an utter ignoramus about science, its procedures and its epistemological foundations. Kevin is a testament to the success of IDiot/cretinist misinformation campaigns — and a victim thereof. All observations are compatible with IDiocy.

  3. Can these people think for themselves or can they only badly parot creation/id snake oil salesmen?

  4. Hey Kevin, if you want to quote mine, try Mark Twain: “If it is a Miracle, any sort of evidence will answer, but if it is a Fact, proof is necessary.” Oh, and get back to us if any data consistant with ID turns up.

  5. abeastwood says: “Oh, and get back to us if any data consistant with ID turns up.”

    The problem is that all the evidence is consistent with ID. Whatever is observed is claimed to be exactly what the designer intended. Their “theory” can’t be tested unless there’s something to look for that would be inconsistent with ID. There’s lots of evidence that we’re not that intelligently designed (our teeth, our eyes, etc.) but the Discoveroids insist that the designer did a dandy job.

  6. “When the Big Bang theory was first proposed, more than a few scientists expressed opposition to it, not because it was nonscientific but because it implied the existence of a Creator.”
    Unexterminable like all misquotes attributed to Gould and Darwin.
    First of all: there is no “The Big Bang Theory”. There are several candidate theories and physicists are still trying to figure out which one is correct. Cousin Kevin refers to the proposal that our Universe actually had a beginning in contrast with the Steady State, which has been refuted in 1964 by Penzance and Wilson.
    More important: the proposal that our Universe had a beginning comes from Alexander Friedmann, who as a Soviet-commie and atheist certainly not did so because it implied the existence of any creator. Neither did his student Gamov, who expanded on Friedmann’s theory in the late 40’s. From the very beginning every single Big Bang Theory was totally naturalistic.

  7. “but the Discoveroids insist that the designer did a dandy job”
    Exactly. I have encountered creacrappers who argued that imperfect design is evidence for an Intelligent Designer too.

  8. mnb0 says: “I have encountered creacrappers who argued that imperfect design is evidence for an Intelligent Designer too.”

    That’s the Discoveroids’ position. They’ve said so several times, for example: The New Theory of Improvident Design.

  9. Kevin confusedly conflates, “Separation of church and state has been cited as one reason to keep ID out of science courses, as if it were some sort of religious doctrine that teachers would be imposing on students merely by introducing it as an alternative to the creation myth favored by evolutionists.”

    Well, Kevin, since it seems to bother you so, you will be happy to know there is no creation myth favored by evolutionists, or any other true scientists, for that matter. As our favorite Curmudgeon stated above, the details of life’s origins are not yet known. The only creation myths are those favored by various religions. If the unknown makes you uncomfortable, take your pick — there are many different creation stories to choose from.

    You haven’t done your homework before writing, Kevin. Darwin said nothing at all about how life began, he only said that evolution is driven by natural selection. And during the 155 years since he published On the Origin of Species, his theory of evolution by natural selection has been confirmed countless times by countless scientists making countless observations. It has EARNED THE RIGHT TO BE TAUGHT IN BIOLOGY AND PALEONTOLOGY COURSES AT EVERY LEVEL. No form of creationism, including ID, can make that claim.

    So before you write again, Kevin, do your homework. Enroll in a biology, paleontology, or geology course at a convenient community college, or at least read up on the subject online at Kahn Academy. Doing so will help you to sound like you know what you’re talking about, instead of just squawking like a parrot.

  10. When are those people going to realize that if they are going to use intelligent alien species to explain things that they will have to produce those aliens. Super intelligent designing aliens from space, indeed! Harrumph.

  11. retiredsciguy: “So before you write again, Kevin, do your homework.”

    Kevin did his homework, unlike most of the “transitional fossils” (between honest, but misled deniers and full-blown activists) who write those letters-to-the-editor. The main clue is that he memorized so many DI sound bites, while painstakingly avoiding the ones you expect only from Biblical literalists who just discovered the rhetorical value of “scientific” creationism, but still believe their particular interpretation of scripture because it “feels good,” not because of the independent evidence that appears at first glance to validate it. This guy knows much more about biology, evolution and the scientific method than he’ll ever let on. Not as much as those who do the actual work, of course, but probably more than the average nonscientist-on-the-street, including those who have no problem with evolution. While he may not be as completely in on the scam as professional Discoveroids, he has probably learned the classic pseudoscience-peddler technique of saving some science facts as “insurance.” When trapped they throw out an odd fact or 2 that, at once, can fool nonscientists in the audience to think that they know the science and are honest about it, and puts egg on the face of critics who accuse them of “believing this” or “not understanding that.” That’s especially embarrassing when they admit an old earth after a baseless accusation of being a YEC. The critic’s already uphill battle gets even steeper.

    This guy knows about Jerry Coyne, so he probably also knows about Ken Miller, but enough to pretend as long as he can that Miller and his “kind” don’t exist. For a decade these people have been raving about “mere Deist” Antony Flew, yet consider Miller an arch-enemy, even though he is a devout Christian who rejects “mere Deism.” That’s because Miller complicates their bait-and-switch scam, as do the Biblical YECs and OEC who reject the ID scam. So don’t expect him to mention them until absolutely necessary. Even then, he’s probably prepared to quote-mine or Gish-gallop his way out of the bind if necessary. At least enough to stay a step ahead of his critics in the eyes of fence-sitters who lack the time and interest to think past the feel-good sound bites. Which is easy when, as SC says, the critic brings a slide rule to a knife fight.