Creationist Wisdom #637: A Catalog of Clunkers

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Herald-News of Joliet, Illinois. It’s titled Evolution Confusion. The newspaper has a 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 Robert. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

Presidential candidate neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson does not agree with the theory of evolution. This has brought out the usual discussion and confusion. The confusion arises because there are two different types of evolutionary changes. One is both scientific and Biblical, and the other is neither. Carson talked about micro vs. macro, which has to do with size of changes, but a better differentiation is limited vs. general theory of evolution.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Robert leads off with the micro-macro mambo (discussed in Common Creationist Claims Confuted), and he provides his own label to the long-term results of incremental changes — the “general theory of evolution.” This is a great beginning. Then he says:

Limited changes are those within the created kind, which is roughly the taxonomic classification of family. They require no new outside information and generally lose information. The changes utilize the genetic variation designed in by God. The change processes are natural selection, adaptation and speciation, which are directly scientifically observable, repeatable and consistent with the Bible.

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] Micro-evolution utilizes divinely built-in information, but that process has divinely built-in limitations. As for “information,” see Phlogiston, Vitalism, and Information. Robert continues:

The general theory of evolution loved by atheists involves changes from one kind/family into another. They require new information from the outside, which requires a natural process violating a law of science. Evolutionists’ proposed mechanisms are Neo-Darwinism and punctuated equilibria.

Huh? Those are the “proposed mechanisms” for “macro evolution”? Actually, the mechanism (mutation and natural selection) is the same as for small changes, but it’s a process that continues to occur, eventually resulting in a species with a gene pool significantly different from the ancestral stock. Here’s more:

The proponents of each tell us scientifically why the other does not work.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Robert thinks we deny “micro evolution.” What goes on in his mind? He seems to be saying that we think only large scale changes occur, all at once. Oh yeah, that’s evolution! Robert doesn’t know that every act of reproduction results in mutations. Moving along:

Changes like dinosaurs into birds are speculative beliefs, have no evidence in the fossil record, and have never been directly observed, which puts them outside the traditional definition of science. They violate the Biblical statement that everything reproduces after its own kind.

No one has ever observed a dinosaur evolve into a bird? Yeah, okay. Another excerpt:

Belief in the general theory of evolution impacts several issues. Carson related abortion to slavery. Evolution is the pseudo-scientific excuse for slavery, abortion and the Holocaust.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Robert thinks there was no slavery or abortion before Darwin. As for the Holocaust, see Hitler and Darwin. And now we come to the end:

Sinful people claim that blacks, babies and Jews are not fully evolved/human and therefore can be enslaved or killed. Evolution is also the basis for communism and secular humanism, which was declared a religion by the Supreme Court. We need to end the confusion about evolution.

Aaaargh!! So many clunkers, so little time. Slavery and racism existed long before Darwin. Regarding communism, see Marx, Stalin, and Darwin. As for secular humanism, about which we know little, see Court Rules Atheism Is a Religion?

So there you are. Robert’s letter is a massive catalog of creationist clunkers, blindly copied from creationist websites and unthinkingly repeated as if they were facts. It’s a fine addition to our collection.

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

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14 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #637: A Catalog of Clunkers

  1. ‘Tis rather odd that the Discoveroids get so upset and start throwing all their toys out of the pram if one dares refer to them as ‘Creationists’– a term they insist only applies to Biblical literalists/YEC’ers.

    But they never seem to make so much as a squeak when flat-out Biblical Creationists such as Robert appropriate the DI’s own code words, like ‘intelligent design’ and ‘information.’

    Why is that, I wonder?

    … NOT!

  2. Ceteris Paribus

    @ Megalonyx
    The simple answer to why Robert is not punished by the DI: It happens that because the DI is a constituted as a very compassionate, loving, and forgiving organization, it would never wish to heap abuse on any poor unfortunate YECs that come stumbling to their door way.

    So in the eyes of the DI, Robert must appear to be very much like the person who murders his own parents in cold blood, and then successfully throws himself on the mercy of the court as a consequence of being an orphan.

  3. To paraphrase Mark Twain, it would be better if Robert kept his thoughts to himself and let people guess he might be ignorant than to write a letter to the editor proving that he is.

  4. Robert cites “Dr. Ben Carson” as an authority. While he is a doctor his views on evolution did not blossom from his stint in medical school, rather they come from much earlier from his Seventh Day Adventist upbringing.

  5. What the hell is he talking about? And how bizarre it is that he ends his letter with, “We need to end the confusion about evolution.” Who could possibly be more confused than he is?

  6. Robert writes to the local paper, not to argue fact with people who know the facts. On the contrary, it’s to reach people who don’t.

    Creationism prospers (insofar as it does) on the efforts of grass-roots activists like Robert. People who write to the local paper. People who sound like they know what they’re talking about.

    When Robert writes:

    “Limited changes … require no new outside information and generally lose information.”

    he sounds as if he is writing from some knowledge. The fact that the statement is demonstrably wrong will not occur to the bulk of the readership of the Joliet Herald-News. What is this quantity “outside information”? How is it different from “information”? If it were true that genetic changes generally lose information – which it isn’t – how would that disable the conservation and natural selection of those changes that don’t?

    “They (changes at the family level) require new information from the outside, which requires a natural process violating a law of science.”

    Again, it sounds sciency, doesn’t it? But of course this “new information” consists precisely and solely of changes to the genome in and of themselves. Those changes occur because of well-understood chemical and physical causes. There is no violation of natural law in that, nor in the conservation and natural selection of changes that confer an advantage. Robert is simply peddling bafflegab.

    Scientists want to do science. That’s what they signed up for. Countering the endless falsehoods churned out by the creationist noise machine is not what they want to do, and not what they should be doing. It must be done by others, therefore.

    Regrettably – and I know some here will differ – mere ridicule and derision is not useful either. All that does is turn the creationist shill into a kind of victim, an innocent enquirer bullied and abused by arrogant elitists.

    So the only course is for ordinary people patiently to unpick the creationist assertions, demonstrate the creationist falsehoods, and do it without derision or insult, in public, in the same public fora as the creationists. Not, of course, on creationists’ own sites – they don’t allow that – but in the open public marketplace of ideas.

    If I thought that an email from an Australian to the editor of the Times-Herald of Joliet, IL, would help, I’d write one. Alas, I think not.

    As we say in my country, it’s up to you blokes.

  7. As you say, it’d be hard to find a more idiotic collection of scientifically ignorant clunkers in a single shortish letter . . . except that you succeed in doing so more or less every week. Robert’s merely yet another example of an infantilism that seems rampant among the American Right: we’re all so special special special that everything we say is Really Important and Significant, oh yes, otherwise we’ll hold our breath and scream. It’s pretty depressing to see a large percentage of the population of the most powerful country in the world be so childish as to allow these self-delusions, to prefer their own self-aggrandizement over the boring stuff of actually, y’know, checking things out.

    This weekend I gave a talk to an sf convention about “the physics of the soul” — basically a romp through late-19th-century and early-20th-century attempts to pin down the physical properties of the soul, from Baraduc’s photographic attempts to Jaeger’s woolen underpants. Much of the audience laughed with me; we had, though, the statutory two folk who felt I was being too unkind. One of them, as soon as he realized that I knew not just the rationalist arguments pretty well but also the spiritualist/bonkers ones, had the good grace to back off.

    The other, luckily after the presentation was almost over, started telling me about his own Oh Golly Gosh Unique Theory Of Y’Know Everything. Fully cognizant of the dangers of debating with suchlike, I merely pointed out that his first two “original discoveries” were in fact centuries-old clunkers.

    And there I thought was an end of it. Except that, after the session was over, he approached me again with the very same points that, just a few minutes earlier, I’d explained, and he had accepted, had long ago been demolished.

    It was a graphic reminder to me of the mindset of the Roberts of this world. Robert has presumably had it explained to him that

    The general theory of evolution loved by atheists

    is downright silly, because only a nitwit could say that atheists “love” evolution: it’s just that, like anyone else with an evolved brain, including many people of faith, they accept that, like it or lump it, evolution happens.

    As I say, Robert has presumably been told this often yet either declined to listen or, like Theory of Everything Man, can absorb stuff in one moment yet reject it moments later when cognitive dissonance triumphs. It’s a bit of a pity that, like too many 13-year-olds, he doesn’t have the self-discipline to focus on what he might learn rather than on the garbage that reinforces his preconceptions.

  8. @Dave Luckett

    That’s a great comment — you were writing it at the same time as I was fumbling over my own effort. Many thanks.

  9. Dave Luckett:
    “If I thought that an email from an Australian to the editor of the Times-Herald of Joliet, IL, would help, I’d write one. Alas, I think not.”

    Perhaps, but since that paper has an online comments feature, that would be an excellent way to share your knowledge and ideas.

    I’m a huge fan of your comments here, Dave, and I’m sure any thoughtful person reading your comments on the website of the Herald-News of Joliet, Illinois would feel the same.

    BTW, ditto what realthog said about your comment.

  10. I suggest that a small town (pop. 146,125) paper would be flattered to receive recognition from an intercontinental readership.

  11. Normally creationists religiously avoid defining “kind”, as that gets them into trouble. So I was delighted for a moment to see that Robert actually defined “kind” as ”family”, which firmly places human beings among the apes. Then I noticed that weasel word “roughly”.

  12. Changes like dinosaurs into birds are speculative beliefs, have no evidence in the fossil record, and have never been directly observed, which puts them outside the traditional definition of science.

    Was creation “observed”? Not by any human being. And we have only the word of Moses (who supposedly wrote Genesis) that God was there to observe it. And let’s not even get into what the fossil record says; tat subject has been flogged to death by creationists, who have made it clear in the process that they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

    Sinful people claim that blacks, babies and Jews are not fully evolved/human and therefore can be enslaved or killed.

    “Sinful people” including a lot of creation believers throughout history.

  13. My kingdom for an edit button . . . [mention of typo deleted].

    [*Voice from above*] But then I would have nothing to do.

  14. Sinful people claim that blacks, babies and Jews are not fully evolved/human…
    (1) Of course, evolutionary biology does not have a concept of “fully evolved”. There is no goal to evolution. Evolution is an ongoing process.
    (2) Individuals are not evolving, so it doesn’t make sense to distinguish between babies and adult in terms of evolution.
    (3) All modern humans are closely related members of the same species.
    (4) The idea that we draw lessons from nature (“the courage of the lion” or “the nobility of blue blood”) is pre-scientific.