Creationist Wisdom #526: Quoting a Quote-Miner

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Sheboygan Press of Sheboygan, Wisconsin. It’s titled Even biologists not sold on neo-Darwinian view. An icon at the start of the letter will get you to the newspaper’s comments feature.

Because today’s writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. His first name is David. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

Mr. Lester Williams recently wrote in a letter to the editor about evolution: “We know that this is true because there is much empirical evidence to prove it.”

This is the letter David is talking about: Faith and science are mutually exclusive. It’s pretty good, but David doesn’t like it. Here’s what he says:

Perhaps he [the earlier letter-writer] would like to hear what some evolutionary biologists have to say on the subject.

We’d be much more interested in seeing some evidence that disproves evolution, but if quotes are all David has to offer, we’ll take a look. You probably already know what’s coming, and you won’t be disappointed. Here it comes:

English biologists Mae-wan Ho and Peter Saunders are quoted in the book, “Darwin’s Black Box,” by Dr. Michael Behe, Professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University, as follows: “It is now approximately half a century since the neo-Darwinian synthesis was formulated. A great deal of research has been carried on within the paradigm it defines. Yet the successes of the theory are limited to the minutiae of evolution, such as the adapted change in coloration of moths, while it has remarkably little to say on the questions which interest us most, such as how there came to be moths in the first place.” (p.28).

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! David gives us a quote from a creationist book by Discoveroid Michael Behe. We’ll ignore it and read on:

On page 29 of the same book, Dr. Jerry Coyne, Professor of Ecology & Evolution at the University of Chicago, is quoted as saying, “We conclude — unexpectedly — that there is little evidence for the neo-Darwinian view. It’s theoretical foundations and the experimental evidence supporting it are weak.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We’re not going to chase down that quote either. We’re confident that Coyne isn’t being quoted accurately. Oh, all right, we’ll look it up. It’s number 4.10 in the TalkOrigins Quote Mine Project, and you’ll have to scroll down to find it. David continues:

Dr. Lynn Margulis, Distinguished University Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts, was quoted on page 26 of the same book: “History will ultimately judge neo-Darwinism as a minor 20th Century religious sect within the sprawling religious persuasion of Anglo-Saxon biology.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s David’s third quote from Behe’s magic book — and they’re all in pages 26-29. Great research! We Googled around briefly, and apparently that quote isn’t quite her position — see Lynn Margulis on Evolution as a Religious Sect. She’s no longer around to defend herself — see NCSE’s article from 2011: Lynn Margulis dies, which says: “Her proclivity for such unconventional evolutionary mechanisms allowed her to be steadily misrepresented by antievolutionists hoping to convince the public that evolution is a theory in crisis. But Margulis firmly rejected creationism … .”

Here’s the end of David’s letter:

I do agree with Mr. Williams [the earlier letter-writer] on one thing, though: “You can believe what you want, but your belief does not make it true.” Amen, brother.

So there you are, dear reader. David has Behe, and we have reality. Which is right? It’s so difficult to decide.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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10 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #526: Quoting a Quote-Miner

  1. David needs to go to the Dept. web page at Behe’s institution and discover that all the other members of his Dept. have dis-owned his positions on ID and creationism. Of course that probably won’t convince David or any other died in the wool creationist.

  2. Isn’t quoting a quote-miner a form of plagiarism?

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    At least this yahoo doesn’t think he knows everything, and relies on ‘experts’ for support. And he is pretty cautious about throwing stupid facts out.

  4. Actually I disagree with that Lester Williams article as well and thus don’t think as high of it as SC seems to do. For one thing LW gets the origin of the Big Bang Theory wrong in no less than three respects. First of all it was not Lemaitre, but Fred Hoyle who dubbed the event Big Bang – in 1949. Second Lemaitre made his proposals in 1927 and expanded them in 1931. Third he was not the first – Soviet-commie Alexander Friedmann pulled it off in 1922.
    And that’s the simple stuff.
    So not only the Sheboygan creationists have a problem with reality. Of course we can trust crea-David to miss the flaws entirely.

  5. @mnbo
    In the spirit of nick-picking I wonder whether Friedmann can be credited with the Big Bang hypothesis. As far as I understand, he was the first who produced a solution of Einstein’s equations which had an expanding universe. Lemaitre, according to my understanding, was the first to remark on this meaning that at a finite past the universe would be a point. (It is mathematically possible to have an eternal, expanding universe, with no point beginning, but I don’t know whether Friedmann’s solution allowed that.) His term was “primeval atom”.

  6. @Mnbo:
    Fred Hoyle may have dubbed it the “Big Bang”, but he called it that derogatorily. He championed a competing idea, called the Steady State Theory, that held that the universe was expanding eternally, maintaining a constant density as new matter was constantly created. The discovery of the cosmic microwave background in 1964 by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson was the final nail in Steady State’s coffin.

    IMO, the most important thing is not who first proposed that the universe expanded from a singularity, but rather, what the evidence is that leads to the conclusion that the universe is expanding. That would be the Doppler Red Shift of light from distant galaxies, which indicates that the farther a galaxy is from the Milky Way, the faster it is receding from us — in other words, the universe is expanding. There’s a bit of controversy surrounding this discovery — was it made by Edwin Hubble, Hubble’s assistant Milton Humason, who actually did the work, Georges Lemaitre, Vesto Slipher, or Alexander Friedmann? At any rate, the discovery was made, we know the universe is expanding, and to the best of our knowledge, has been doing so for about 13.7 billion years (give or take a week or two).

  7. Stephen Kennedy

    Actually, “primeval atom” was Lemaitre’s term. Friedmann was the first to find solutions to Einstein’s equations that allowed for a non-static Universe but he did not seem to understand or expand very much on their significance to Cosmology. Friedmann died of Typhoid fever in 1924 and his work was forgotten.

    Lemaitre, who had not been aware of Friedmann’s work, actually set out to solve Einstein’s equations with the purpose of applying them to the history of the Universe and in 1927 independently found solutions similar to those of Friedmann and recognized their significance for Cosmology. He was the first to state the Universe was expanding and actually derived the equation and the constant that were later attributed to Hubbel in 1929. Lemaitre was Belgian and published in a French language journal and it was not realized until after the myth of the discovery of what is known as Hubbel’s Law and constant had become firmly established.

    In 1931, Lemaitre published solutions he had found that actually indicated that the expansion of the Universe had been accelerating after an initial period of steady expansion. There was no way to test this prediction in 1931 and Einstein did not like it because it reintroduced a non-zero Cosmological Constant that Einstein considered his worst blunder. It was not until the 1990s when the Hubbel space telescope was used to observe distant Type IA supernovas that it was confirmed that the expansion of the Universe began to accelerate about five billion years ago.

  8. I do agree with Mr. Williams [the earlier letter-writer] on one thing, though: “You can believe what you want, but your belief does not make it true.” Amen, brother.

    Pity “David” can’t apply that bit of common sense to his own beliefs.

  9. TooLongSabbatical

    Biokid said:

    Of course that probably won’t convince David or any other died in the wool creationist.

    What a great play on words using a familiar expression!

    Clearly Ken Ham & Co. pulled the wool over David’s eyes too forcefully, far too many times, and eventually David suffocated from the abusive smothering.

  10. @TomS: “I don’t know whether Friedmann’s solution allowed that.”
    According to Stephen Hawking no.

    “the most important thing is not who first proposed that the universe expanded from a singularity.”
    Agreed. But if you are going to use the history of science in an argument (even as an example) then please get your historical facts right.

    @SK: “Lemaitre, who had not been aware of Friedmann’s work”
    Well, I can’t rule this out, but Friedmann published his findings in a renowned German scientific magazine. And Belgium is a neighbouring country. At the other hand Friedmann’s article seems to have been largely unnoticed.

    @all:
    “solutions to Einstein’s equations”
    To be precise: Friedmann found one, Lemaitre all three. So I don’t mean to dismiss Lemaitre’s work. There is a reason the thing is called

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedmann–Lemaître–Robertson–Walker_metric