John West’s Film Shown at Biola

Your Curmudgeon is able to find humor in the most bizarre activities of creationists, but what we’ve got for you this time is so bad — so tragic — that it’s difficult even for us to laugh about it. So we’ll just give it to you straight.

The news comes from The Chimes, which is the student newspaper of Biola University, a California bible college founded in 1908 as the Bible Institute Of Los Angeles.

We’ve previously posted about the interlocking relationships between the Discovery Institute and Biola. And as we reported earlier, for the celebration of their centennial year, Biola honored Philip E. Johnson: Godfather of Intelligent Design.

The cozy relationship between Biola and the Discoveroids continues to be alive and well. The Chimes gives us this headline: Scientist finds evidence of intelligent design in the universe. Wow! Let’s get right into this. We’ll use some bold font for emphasis. They tell us:

The Biola Christian Apologetics Program screened a film entitled “Privileged Species: How the Cosmos is Designed for Human Life,” written and directed by John West of The Discovery Institute.

John West is a Discoveroid Senior Fellow and Associate Director of their creationism think tank, the Center for Science & Culture. Around here we affectionately call him “Westie,” and we look forward to his output for laughs. What saddens us about this story in The Chimes is that they’re serious about Westie’s movie. Kids go to Biola thinking they’ll get an education, and this is what goes on there. Here’s more from the story:

The short film featured Dr. Michael Denton, a biologist and geneticist who finds evidence in nature that earth was intelligently designed for human life, and that we are, in fact, not an accident.

Denton? Ah yes, the last time we discussed him was Discoveroids: The Universe is Platonic. Back to the Biola newspaper:

Approximately 500 people attended the November 14 event, which was hosted by Biola faculty John Bloom, Craig J. Hazen and Fred Sanders. It included an interview with Denton himself.

Many of you keep up with developments in biology, but for some reason, the only places you can learn of this “evidence” are the Discoveroids’ website and now the Biola student newspaper. Is there a conspiracy to keep such information from you? We’ll let you decide that. Let’s read on:

“Privileged Species” aims to explain how the elements carbon, water and oxygen work together so intricately that if these elements differed even slightly, intelligent human life would not be able to exist.

Huh? Are we reading that correctly? If the elements which comprise us were different, then we wouldn’t exist. Duh — of course! And if oxygen atoms didn’t have 8 protons, then there wouldn’t be any H2O. So Denton is right! If the elements were different, chemistry would be different, and therefore biology would be different — maybe even impossible. It’s an amazing insight: If the universe were different, then — by golly — everything would be different! Is that what Westie’s film is all about? We continue:

The precision of the conditions that support life in our universe provide strong evidence of the intelligent design that purposely built nature. The beauty and parsimony of the way the elements of our universe fit together reveals the universe’s specific design for beings like ourselves, Denton said.

M’god — they’re serious! What do those people do — worship the periodic table of the elements as if it were written in stone by the flaming finger of Yahweh? When the chart is reverently displayed at the front of a chemistry class, do they bow down and chant Oogity Boogity? Maybe so, but we don’t want to know. Here’s more:

Denton presents his evidence for intelligent design by explaining the roles of carbon, water and oxygen in the essential functions of natural and human life, and how the perfect balance of their conditions suggests that we are, in fact, a privileged species, living in a universe perfectly fit for us. The intricate construction of these elements points to a designer, and cannot be random.

Okay, that’s it — we’re stopping this one right now! We don’t see anything here that’s amusing. You can click over to The Chimes and read it all, if you care to. Hey, you can even watch Westie’s film. Then let us know what we’re missing.

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

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37 responses to “John West’s Film Shown at Biola

  1. I wonder whether attendance at the film was mandatory. Isn’t that about the entire studentbody of that school?

    Is it official now, that BIOLA is no longer an acronym for Bible Institute of Los Angeles (as much as that is a semi-ironic, often-contradiction in terms)?

  2. the elements carbon, water and oxygen work together

    Obviously their knowledge of science hasn’t gotten beyond Aristotle if they think water’s an element.

  3. Once again they think that Adam’s water puddle is proof of gawd! Pathetic!!

  4. Adam’s water puddle is proof of urination, isn’t it?

  5. Biola sounds like the brand name of one of the many diet food chemicals such as Stevia, Splenda, or Olestra.

  6. Troy: yeah. Those are fake foods, Biola gives fake education. See? It all works out.

  7. “What do those people do — worship the periodic table of the elements as if it were written in stone by the flaming finger of Yahweh?”
    No – rather his about 30 commandments of physics:

    That’s what we can learn today from Westie: IDiocy is essentially the same as the fine-tuning argument. That again means that the line between philosophy of religion and “Intelligent” Design is non-existent. Since then I have come to expect that “respectable” apologists (Craig, Plantinga) sooner or later get anti-scientific as well. The two I mention indeed have, surprise, surprise, some issues with Evolution Theory, even if they claim to accept it.

  8. Hey! What happened to Westie’s hard-earned and jolly Buffoon logo?

  9. Realthog: Obviously their knowledge of science hasn’t gotten beyond Aristotle if they think water’s an element.

    Tweeted from DiogenesLamp0… but I forgot to h/t you

  10. waldteufel asks: “What happened to Westie’s hard-earned and jolly Buffoon logo?”

    I considered it, but he didn’t write the article, so I left it out.

  11. Quick, where are the barf bags!!!!

  12. but I forgot to h/t you

    Well, I’m all in a huff about that. Inconsolable.

  13. michaelfugate

    I find these doctrinal statements interesting.
    Here are some Biola tidbits:

    There is a personal devil, a being of great cunning and power: “The prince of the power of the air,” “The prince of this world,” “The god of this age.” He can exert vast power only so far as God suffers him to do so. He shall ultimately be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone and shall be tormented day and night forever.

    The existence and nature of the creation is due to the direct miraculous power of God. The origin of the universe, the origin of life, the origin of kinds of living things, and the origin of humans cannot be explained adequately apart from reference to that intelligent exercise of power. A proper understanding of science does not require that all phenomena in nature must be explained solely by reference to physical events, laws and chance.

    Therefore creation models which seek to harmonize science and the Bible should maintain at least the following: (a) God providentially directs His creation, (b) He specially intervened in at least the above-mentioned points in the creation process, and(c) God specially created Adam and Eve (Adam’s body from non-living material, and his spiritual nature immediately from God). Inadequate origin models hold that (a) God never directly intervened in creating nature and/or (b) humans share a common physical ancestry with earlier life forms.

    Bolding added by me.

    That seem to be on the same page with the DI on Adam and Eve.

  14. Troy: “Biola sounds like the brand name of one of the many diet food chemicals such as Stevia, Splenda, or Olestra.”

    Or a deadly virus now ravaging W. Africa. It would work even better if it were the Evangelical Bible Institute of Los Angeles.

  15. I always thought Biola sounds like a toothpaste or laundry detergent.

    It doesn’t work as toothpaste, detergent, or sweetener, though.

  16. Troy says: “Biola sounds like the brand name of one of the many diet food chemicals”

    To me it sounds like the name of a sexually-transmitted disease, as in: That girl gave me a bad case of Biola!

  17. I was about to suggest that if life were based on neutronium, helium and ununoctium, then that would be evidence for some super-natural agency. But when I realized that water is an element, I decided that anti-helium, ununoctium and a mesonic molecule would be a nicer trio for Intelligent Designers to demonstrate their existence.

  18. michaelfugate

    isn’t life based on earth, wind and fire?

    biola could be part of a song chorus biolee, biola, biolahahahaha.

  19. This is the perfect opportunity for the Discovery Institute’s first real science experiment. First, they should grab one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule and repeat until you can fill a room with this new gas. Then they can investigate the life sustaining properties of carbon and oxygen!

    Then they can repeat the same experiment using the element water.

  20. OT, but has something happened to Casey, our favorite creationist? He seems to have fallen strangely quiet . . .

  21. Little known video of Westie sining the theme song for his movie.

    Biola-hee, Biola-hoo, Biola-ha-ha

  22. michaelfugate

    Having clicked on the Biola website – I now get a popup ad for said “institution”



    I’ve just been trying this for the cosmic microwave background radiation and the human genome, and for neither of them is the experiment working out well . . .

  24. michaelfugate

    It does put limitation on the curriculum….

  25. I think biblically about everything. In fact, Jesus invented the infield fly rule to stop the devil from turning cheap double plays.

  26. Slightly off topic: The word ‘fundamentalist’ comes from the 90 essays written in 1910-1915 and published by the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. The essay were titled ‘The Fundamentals.’

  27. The hidden flaw in all arguments regarding the alleged fine-tuning of the universe for life is that it presumes that it was somehow essential for life to arise, so that therefore it’s miraculous that conditions were just right for it to do so.

    But the universe would get along just fine without wonderful Us, and indeed without any life at all. Life is the product of nature, not its purpose, and if it happens to have been the beneficiary of a series of lucky breaks, that proves nothing.

    For that matter, the “fine-tuning” argument has itself come under fire recently; it turns out that things aren’t quite as precariously balanced as some people have claimed.

  28. @Eric Lipps

    For that matter, the “fine-tuning” argument has itself come under fire recently; it turns out that things aren’t quite as precariously balanced as some people have claimed.

    Do you have a (fairly easily understandable) reference for this? I’d be ever so grateful.

  29. The “fine tuning” argument depends on the the past behaving like the present. If the ways things work could be different when “we weren’t there”, then there is no knowing that they were “fine tuned”. The “fine tuned” argument is an “Old Earth Creationism” argument. Maybe even a “Theistic Evolution” argument.

    Secondly, it has been noted that the “fine tuning” argument depends on what would happen if one parameter at a time were slightly changed. But what if *all* of them were massively different? What if the fine-structure constant and the ratio of proton-to-electron mass and the number of space-like dimensions and … well, the truth of the matter is, nobody what things would be like if all of the constants were were simultaneously changed.

    Third, what would stop God/Intelligent Designers from doing things to their satisfaction even if natural laws made it impossible?

  30. @realthog:

    Check out Victor Stenger’s book The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us.

  31. @Mark Joseph

    Thanks. I know of that book, but alas have no time to read it right now. (I have to research and write another ~50,000 nonfiction words by the end of the year.) I was hoping for a handy article . . .

  32. SC: “We don’t see anything here that’s amusing.”

    I don’t see anything that’s not amusing. First, they are forced to do the dog-and-pony show at a Biblical-literalism-peddling outfit, because no science, or even mainstream religion, organization is interested in hearing long-refuted (albeit often cleverly rephrased) nonsense. Second, nothing they say, even if it were totally true, would provide a shred of evidence for the particular origins account that Biola folks desperately want validated – apparently because their faith is not strong enough.

    Yeah, I guess some of you find that tragic instead of amusing. But as we often say about movies, they’re just acting, they don’t really get hurt. But they do get paid. Now that’s tragic.

  33. TomS: “Maybe even a ‘Theistic Evolution’ argument.”

    As you know, theistic evolution, in recent decades at least, is just plain old evolution, and not only avoids “fine tuning” and other “creationist” arguments, but often refutes them. A “theistic evolutionist,” in stark contrast to an IDer, will admit that he takes the “ultimate cause” on faith, and admit that there’s no evidence for or against.

    Before anyone objects, yes I know that the term is often used differently. I’m reminded of the article in which Genie Scott referred to Michael Behe as a “theistic evolutionist.” She was obviously thinking of what he personally believes, not what he peddles, which is the polar opposite. The terminology can be very confusing to those new to the “debate,” so for years I have been advising to focus on what they promote, never on what they apparently personally believe. You might also recall on Talk.Origins a few years ago, I got a fellow “Darwinist,” and long-time critic of ID/creationism, to admit that he is a “creationist.” Talk about confusing!

    Anyway, the other irony about “fine tuning” is that it undermines Dembski’s pretense that “design” is mutually exclusive of chance and regularity. I lost the article from ~10 years ago, but it made a good case that “fine tuning” is actually an argument for the “regularity” that Dembski tries (and fails) to rule out. But you know that ID/creationism is a scam that tries to have everything both ways. Which is yet another reason that it makes no sense to portray it as a belief.

  34. @realthog:

    I understand; hope the project goes well.

    I found these with a bit of googling:

    Rational Wiki’s article

    Debunking “Fine Tuning” Arguments for God (17 minute video; Part of AnticitizenX’s “Philosophical Failures of Christian Apologetics” series; I haven’t watched the whole thing, but it gets off to a great start).

    The Fine-Tuning Argument (1998) By Theodore M. Drange

    Also, if you google the phrase “failure of the fine tuning argument”, the fourth result will link you to a download of a paper by Victor Stenger titled A Case Against the Fine-Tuning of the Cosmos. It’s 21 pages long, so quite a bit less than tackling his whole book.

    Hope this helps.

  35. That’s incredibly helpful of you, Mark. Thank you very much indeed!

  36. No problem. Happy to help out.