Creationist Wisdom #426: Creationist Engineer

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Coeur d’ Alene Press of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The title is Critiquing the ‘evidence’ on evolution. Yes, the word “evidence” is in scare quotes.

We don’t like to embarrass people (unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures), but we’ll do it in this case. The letter-writer is Chris Major. He’s a bit of a public figure, because in this news story: UI students awarded SME scholarships, we found him handing out scholarships for the University of Idaho on behalf of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, of which he’s the new Coeur d’Alene chapter chairman. He seems to be an environmental engineer. We’ll give you a few excerpts from his letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

Chris is responding to a couple of earlier letters, which seem to have been responses to an earlier letter of his. One of the letters he’s responding to is EVOLUTION: Don’t put God in box. Chris says:

[E]volution tries to answer the questions we’ve discussed by appealing to evidence. The problem is, Mr. Ortmann [earlier letter-writer], there is little to no evidence confirming Darwinism. We see microevolution and minor adaptation, extinct species and our modern animals, but how come we do not see mutations proving to be advantageous or transition species in the fossil record, for starters? I’ve talked with two high school biology teachers and a former neonatologist on this subject and they say that we have no evidence proving helpful mutations.

Chris needs to talk to a few more people. Better yet, he needs to pick up a basic biology text. Anyway, then he tells us:

When a child has Down Syndrome or Cystic Fibrosis, for example, we never look at that and say “Wow! That evolution thing is working!” In addition, we have no evidence in the fossil record or modern observations of species with “helpful” mutations. In addition, we have never found fossils showing the transition of species. We do not observe animals adapting on a macroevolutionary scale.

Yeah, no beneficial mutations. Try checking this out, Chris — it’s easily found in the TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims: Claim CB101 — Most mutations are harmful. As for not literally observing macroevolution, well … duh! That sort of thing requires thousands of generations. We do observe evidence of it in the fossil record and in DNA. This is high school stuff. Let’s read on:

I understand that species don’t evolve overnight – that’s a given regardless of stance on the theory. We do see microevolution, as I explained earlier. What we cannot see, nor have past evidence for, is macroevolution. How does changing a few proteins eventually transform primordial soup into a species like Homo Sapiens?

Aaaargh!! We won’t bother with that. Chris continues:

The question is, how long [does evolution require]? The average human body has 37.2 trillion cells (stat courtesy of the Smithsonian) with over a billion different molecules and who knows how many atoms. How could those assemble in random, unguided steps? It would take a nearly infinite amount of time. The probability of randomly assembling a protein of 300 amino acids is 1 out of 2.04 x 10 to the 390th (courtesy of the TalkOrigins archive). Most scientists calculate any probabilities of 1 out of 10 to the 15th as nearly impossible.

Not too stubborn, is he? Here’s more:

As for taking the Bible literally, how do we read the newspaper? Literally. If the writer says an event happened, we assume that the writer meant to communicate a literal event. If a novel writer writes about an event, real or fictional, we assume the event is literal (true is another question). We assume writings are literal unless the author indicates otherwise. Following this logic, there is reason to believe that the Bible can be taken literally.

Aaaargh!! Moving along:

Defending the Bible would require a separate letter to the editor and is a debate for another time. For the time being, God is not in a box because by definition and the Bible, He is a being of perfection that cannot be contained. He can create a complex universe because by definition and the Bible, He is complex. This is rational thinking.

Aaaargh!! Another excerpt:

[One of the former letter-writers] admitted himself that the universe is complex. So how can a concept of randomness create a universe, yet something more complex like humans cannot? Neither can truly create – a Being greater than both force or human is the only adequate answer.

Aaaargh!! And now we come to the end:

In addition, where is the scientific evidence against the creation account in the Bible? Evolution is not evidence – it is called a “theory” for a reason. Here is where I agree with [the other letter-writer] – this place is where science ends and where we need to find an answer outside of the natural to explain the origin of the natural.

This letter is a striking example of why one should never attempt to debate with a creationist.

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

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15 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #426: Creationist Engineer

  1. Charles Deetz ;)

    How do these guys think scientists can sustain even a faulty or misleading lie of evolution without supporting evidence of transitional forms and fossils???? Such an easy ‘gotcha’ for these letter writers that is easily corrected, yet they refuse to look, and they refuse to listen when given this information.

    Every time I hear this I think of the evolution documentary last year where the creationists are sitting at a table with hominid skulls still refusing to believe that they represent transition.

  2. paulpfish

    Chris’ discussion of why the bible should be taken literally should be a serious contender for the Stupid Hall of Fame. It would also point out that it is fun to calculate nonsense with big numbers. What are the odds that Chris could be this stupid. If Chris is about 50 years old and he has had 1 time per day that he could have made a rational scientific thought but instead chose something this stupid then this comes to about 18,000 times he taken the wrong turn. This puts him at 2^18,000 from being a truly scientifically rational person. That is 1 followed by about 5000 zeros. Clearly it is impossible for someone to really be this stupid. It further illustrates the low odds that all this stupid can be unraveled back to anything resembling a scientifically rational existence. Further illustrating why debate is probably pointless. Each one of those stupid ideas probably produced a real physical structural change in his brain that cannot be easily corrected.

  3. You should be tested before you move to a new grade. And every test should have in it a requirement that you list 10 beneficial mutations just to pass.

  4. Maybe Curmy can start an “Aaaaargh!!” rating system, with this being a 4 Arg post!

  5. where is the scientific evidence against the creation account in the Bible?
    1) Which one? The one starting in Genesis 1? The one starting in Genesis 2? The one with scraps mentioned in Psalms and Job?
    2) None of those literally says that evolution is false. Isn’t that the standard that we’re supposed to use, “literally”? Actually, the account in Genesis 1 literally says that the waters and the land brought forth the living.
    3) There is the issue of Omphalism. How does the account in Genesis 1 account for there being a thriving population of plants and animals without those living things having a false appearance of a prior history? Omphalism makes the quest for evidence pointless.
    4) Being a shade more realistic than “literally”, the evidence is there against what it says:
    a) There is the contradictory nature of the accounts. For example, the different orders of creation between Genesis 1 & Genesis 2.
    b) There is genetic evidence that the present genetic difference of humans could not arise from a bottleneck of 2 (let alone 1) as in the account of Genesis 2.
    c) There is evidence that the Sun and other stars existed before the formation of the Earth (and surely before there were plants), contrary to the account of Genesis 1.
    etc. etc. etc.

  6. I love it when somebody says “I’m ignorant and I can prove it!” The learned gentleman’s claim of ” The probability of randomly assembling a protein of 300 amino acids is 1 out of 2.04 x 10 to the 390th (courtesy of the TalkOrigins archive). Most scientists calculate any probabilities of 1 out of 10 to the 15th as nearly impossible.” basically proves there is no God … using his logic, of course.

    No one is talking about assembling large proteins amino acid by amino acid or atom by atom randomly. This doesn’t happen because it is very improbable. This is not how evolution works. With this level of logic, starches could never be created because they consist of a great many sugar molecules linked together. yet plants create starches every minute of their existence, so how are plants able to perform these miracles at whim. According to the engineer’s logic: they must be god.

    Amazing.

  7. There is no need to provide evidence against any claim made regarding the bible being true. The onus of proof is on the person or persons that claim it is factual and accurate in it’s depiction of historic events..

    I would supposed the author would also require proof that the human body is not more complex than the universe.

    Poor logic, poor evangelism, horrendous lack of knowledge.

  8. Chris needs to talk to a few more people. Better yet, he needs to pick up a basic biology text.

    The way he slipped from “evolution” to “Darwinism” and jumps to the micro-macro mambo tells me that he did that already – exclusively to mine quotes and define terms to suit the argument.

  9. Our Learned Savior Chris posits:

    The probability of randomly assembling a protein of 300 amino acids is 1 out of 2.04 x 10 to the 390th (courtesy of the TalkOrigins archive).

    In yet another episode of “Google is Your Friend”, I found the page with that reference, which is appropriately entitled as “Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Probability of Abiogenesis Calculations”. Since Chris apparently has attention deficit disorder and didn’t read all of it, allow me to help him out (my emphasis added):

    So the calculation goes that the probability of forming a given 300 amino acid long protein (say an enzyme like carboxypeptidase) randomly is (1/20)300 or 1 chance in 2.04 x 10^390, which is astoundingly, mind-beggaringly improbable. This is then cranked up by adding on the probabilities of generating 400 or so similar enzymes until a figure is reached that is so huge that merely contemplating it causes your brain to dribble out your ears. This gives the impression that the formation of even the smallest organism seems totally impossible. However, this is completely incorrect.

    Um, Chris, that page doesn’t say what you think it says. Just sayin’.

  10. “As for not literally observing macroevolution”
    Doesn’t observed speciation count as macroevolution? That can be nicely googled – speciation has been observed for the first time by my compatriot Hugo de Vries more than 100 years ago. If it doesn’t count, than what does?

  11. For me, I am just relieved that it was an engineer’s turn to play the creationist fool this time instead of another medical doctor.

  12. waldteufel

    Stephen, my years working as an earth scientist among engineers taught me that many (not all) of them are very well trained in their specialties, but poorly educated at the expense of that highly focused training. That may also be a problem with medical doctors. Many of those engineers are also, because of their excellent training, overly confident of their general knowledge of science. Nothing like the toxic mixture of ignorance and self confidence will breed the breezy arm-waving pronouncements of the semi-educated.

  13. @mnbo Re: macroevolution.
    Linnaeus allowed for the appearance of new species, by crosses within a genus. When get to genus and higher, things get fuzzy (that is, it is by convention) as to what would count as a new one, but Triticale is a new genus, a cross between rye (Secale) and wheat (Triticum).
    What the creationists are after, of course, is that not all of evolution has been directly observed. Just as the past hasn’t been. But it is the business of science to deal in things like electrons, gravity and momentum beyond the Earth, infrared and ultraviolet light, the core of the Earth, … things which we cannot “directly” observe.
    Just as no one could have observed all of World War II, what were “seen” were “micro-battles”, but not “macro-battles” like the Battle of Stalingrad or the Battle of Britain, let alone the Eastern Front, etc.

  14. @TomS:

    I just watched the video above, and an irony that keeps popping in my head resurfaced. Which is that many “Darwinists” don’t accept “macroevolution” either, in the sense that a “creationist” can “evolve” into a “Darwinist.” And yet, just like the minimal speciation we see in real time, we see even committed fundamentalists starting to “crack.” Committed fundamentalists who won’t listen to any reasoning (except for quote mining opportunity) are at most 25% of the public. Because of their small size, and the fact that most are “irreversibly speciated,” I just write them off. Yet most “Darwinists” obsess over them as if they represent all evolution-deniers. How crazy is that?

    Meanwhile, skilled anti-evolution activists, particularly Discoveroids, are astutely aware that as much as 50% are, for lack of a better word, “on the fence.” Like the hominid fossils they come in all “shapes and sizes,” from Biblical literalists starting to “crack,” to those who have no problem with evolution but think it’s fair to “teach the controversy” in science class. One trait that most of that ~50% shares is poor knowledge, interest or appreciation of science. Which makes them very susceptible to the “knife” of misleading sound bites, but not to the “slide rule” of technical refutations.

  15. Mark Joseph

    Following this logic, there is reason to believe that the Koran can be taken literally.