Creationist Wisdom #460: Wake Up You Fool!

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Yakima Herald-Republic of Yakima, Washington. The letter is titled The joke of evolution. You know we couldn’t resist something like that.

There’s no reason to provide internet visibility for creationists, and we don’t like to embarrass people (unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures), so we usually omit the writer’s full name and city. We can’t figure out who today’s letter-writer is, so we shall use only his first name, which is Tom. We’ll give you a few excerpts from his letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

If it weren’t so sad it would be laughable. The old story of the king who had no clothes is a play on this reality. The human mind has the ability to deceive itself in order to avoid a painful truth.

Tom can’t even get the name of Hans Christian Andersen’s story right. He’s referring, of course, to The Emperor’s New Clothes. Anyway, now we’re curious to see where Tom is going with this. He says:

The painful truth that man has always tried to avoid is there is a God in heaven who he is accountable to.

That’s so true! Then he refers to the Elwha River, which is undergoing a huge restoration project that involves the removal of dams that had blocked a salmon spawning area. Care is being taken to keep silt out of the hatcheries, and according to Wikipedia: “Restoration of the area around the dam began, including tens of thousands of native plants started in local greenhouses. … The area once under the reservoirs will be revegetated to prevent erosion and speed up ecological restoration of the area.”

Tom is getting his information from this article in the Seattle Times: Back to nature: Last chunk of Elwha dams out in September, which says:

The watershed already is springing back to life from the mountains to the sea: Salmon are swimming and spawning miles above the former Elwha dam site. Alders stand more than head high as the native forest reclaims the former lake beds.

It sounds like a successful project. What does Tom say about it? He tells us:

The Elwha River ecosystem is snapping back at a rapid pace … . But why should that happen if only blind chance moves the universe?

Huh? Whaaa? Tom continues:

Oh, you say, the plants and animals have DNA that guides them to return to form.

Yes, that’s part of it. Plus a lot of clean-up and restoration work. Why do we have a strange feeling that Tom is reading something else into this? Here it comes:

Isn’t DNA information? Where did the information come from? Can information invent itself?

Actually, Tom, yes — DNA can organize itself. It does so every time it replicates. But wait — Tom has a response to that:

Consider, when I turn to the Internet my basic sense tells me someone designed this, someone put this information in here.

Jeepers, he’s right! Someone put information into the internet. Therefore — yes! — it’s the same thing with DNA. Of course! Why didn’t we see that before? Here’s the conclusion of Tom’s letter:

Darwinian evolution truly is the king with no clothes merrily strutting down the street while all the common folk laugh him to scorn.

Tom has made us see the light. No doubt, he’s had the same effect on you, dear reader.

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

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

21 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #460: Wake Up You Fool!

  1. If he’s right, that living things contain information just as the internet contains information …
    Why then the obvious conclusion is that the internet just grew.
    Or, at least: We can’t rebut, on the basis of its amount of information, the opinion that the internet grew like a living thing.

  2. Tom’s not a really DEEP thinker, I guess.

  3. Tom considers:

    when I turn to the Internet my basic sense tells me someone designed this, someone put this information in here.

    …And if you click over to the Discovery Institute ENV blog, or AiG, or WND, or all sorts of other places, you’ll also find there’s a huge amount of misinformation, lies, and steaming piles of [edited out] on the Internet as well.

    A bit like junk DNA, when you come to think about it…

  4. @Megalonyx
    Just like an evolutionist, just because it looks like junk to you, that doesn’t mean that it is serving no purpose, but is intelligently designed.

  5. Charles Deetz ;)

    One commenter defends the letter’s TRUTH. The real truth is the letter is pretty pathetic.

  6. It’s sad, but a large portion of the American public is scientifically illiterate and bound and determined to stay that way. They hold “common sense” supreme and ignorance a virtue, and reserve to themselves the right to critique science whenever it touches on their beliefs or income, e.g., evolution, vaccination, fluoridation, climate, abortion, population. They are not interested in questioning long-held beliefs.

  7. Wake up you (fellow “Darwinist”) fools! This guy is really cutting edge for evolution-deniers, and I don’t mean that sarcastically. Evolution-deniers can and do, just retreat to Omphalism when they can’t handle the evidence. But what to they do with climate change. Why, just claim that it’s God’s revenge to “Darwinists” of course. You know it’s coming…

  8. @garyfjones
    Beliefs which they think are long-held. YEC is, in some respects, a fairly recent phenomenon. Perhaps more to the point, beliefs which make one comfortable.

  9. garyfjones observes

    It’s sad, but a large portion of the American public is scientifically illiterate and bound and determined to stay that way. They hold “common sense” supreme and ignorance a virtue

    Sad indeed, and all too true. From my perspective (born and raised in USA, resident in UK since my–long distant–undergraduate days), I struggle to understand why this should be so. Best attempt at an explanation may still be Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life–a classic, but I am amazed (on looking it up just now) to find it dates from 1963. Surely someone has researched the topic more recently? Any recommended good reads on this from anyone?

  10. @Garyfjones: that’s not typical American. Science is distrusted by many Dutchies as well. Evolution Theory just happens not to be the main target.

  11. Consider, when I turn to the Internet my basic sense tells me someone designed this, someone put this information in here.

    Wasn’t it Al Gore who designed it? So I think Tom is deceiving himself.

  12. Slightly off-topic, but the entire current issue of “Scientific American” is on evolution. I realize several here no longer care for the magazine, but I’m certain it will cause more than a few wails from the creationists.

  13. Consider, when I turn to the Internet my basic sense tells me someone designed this, someone put this information in here.

    “Basic sense”? Is that anything like “spider sense”? Does it tingle?

    Seriously, though, the watchmaker argument (as it’s commonly known) has a glaring weakness.

    It goes something like this: If anything complex must have had a designer, then the universe, which is the most complex thing of all, must have had a Designer. But then . . . what about that Designer, who must surely be even more complex? Doesn’t He (it’s always assumed to be He) need a Designer too? Ad so on, and so on, in an infinite progression.

    That’s usually where the unsophisticated reach for their torches and pitchforks, or, these days, their guns. The better educated talk instead about an “uncaused cause”–but if there can be such a thing, who needs God? Why can’t the universe “cause” itself, or simply have been in existence (in one form or another), forever?

    That’s where the better educated start reaching for their weapons too. Only instead of torches, pitchforks or firearms, they call their lawyers and politicians first to shut up the heretics. And if that doesn’t work, they call on the unsophisticated to do their wetwork for them.

  14. I haven’t often looked at the comments here, but I’m ashamed for the behavior of certain Toms. I live in Seattle and find Yakima Tom’s reasoning absurd. Then again, Yakima is in the rural part of Washington. I love salmon, yummy, so if we can remove unnecessary dams in order to improve salmon runs; I’m all for it.

    Yes, I know the crackpot organization of the Discovery Institute is headquartered in Seattle. Can we say argument from ignorance or argument from over-generalization?

  15. In future letters, Tom from Yakima has plans to reference “The Princess Who Slept on a Mattress With A Small Vegetable Underneath,” “The Odd Looking Baby Duck,” and “The Not Very Large Mythical Aquatic Person.”

  16. Part of the rhetorical game of ID creationists is to call everything they possibly can information. More often than not, data will serve. Note in particular that data, not information, is transmitted. This is standard usage among people who study such stuff. You’ve got data stored on the disks of your hard drive. That data is sometimes transmitted to the main memory of your computer. DNA is close to inert, chemically. So why would we regard a chromosome as unlike a disk in a hard drive. What is all of this jive about information in chromosomes? The templates for proteins are data.

    I don’t have it in me at the moment to make a good argument that you should always use data when it makes sense. Try it out, and see how much woo you can weed out.

  17. @Megalonyx:

    Best attempt at an explanation may still be Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life–a classic, but I am amazed (on looking it up just now) to find it dates from 1963. Surely someone has researched the topic more recently? Any recommended good reads on this from anyone?

    Hofstadter’s book is magnificent. More recent books, also excellent, that deal with the same theme, are Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death (1986), and Susan Jacoby’s The Age of American Unreason (2008). I have not yet had the chance to read Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free by Charles P. Pierce (2010), but I’m looking forward to it. Tangentially related are books on logic and critical thinking, especially the outstanding How We Know What Isn’t So by Thomas Gilovich.

    In his comment, Eric Lipps nailed it: “That’s usually where the unsophisticated reach for their torches and pitchforks, or, these days, their guns.”

  18. @ Mark Joseph: many thanks for the reading list, much appreciated!

    I’ve spent my adult life living in Europe and therefore can happily attest that the USA has no monopoly at all on idiots. But there still seems to me a particular American vigour to stupidity over there, and–as Hofstadter argued–a significant factor in that would seem to be the evangelical movements of the Great Awakenings of the 19th and 20th centuries.

  19. Megalonyx fails to understand his own sentence: “I’ve spent my adult life living in Europe and therefore can happily attest that the USA has no monopoly at all on idiots.”

  20. @Megalonyx:

    Happy to help. I agree that the the stupidity on this side of the pond has a special vigor; the books listed explain why. The foundational philosophy behind American culture is not (as is occasionally stated by people who really ought to know better) either christianity or freedom; it’s anti-intellectualism.