It’s amusing — and also tragic — to watch the long and reluctant retreat of creationists from their biblical fantasyland. First, they had to ignore the numerous scriptural declarations that The Earth Is Flat. How did they do that? Simple — they deny that the bible makes such a claim.
Then they had to give up the bible’s Earth-centered universe and acknowledge the reality of the solar system, in which the Earth was just one of several planets that orbit the Sun — see the Galileo affair. More recently, they’ve been forced to give up the belief that ours is the only planetary system in the universe.
In spite of those catastrophic setbacks, hard core creationists still cling to their denial of evolution and the claim that the Earth (and the whole universe) is only 6,000 years old. Others (old-Earth creationists) have dropped that, but like all creationists, they insist that life is a miracle — although the more astute among them grudgingly allow that some kind of microbial life may be found on extra-solar planets.
When you clear away the nonsense, what remains of their supernatural wonderland is the alleged impossibility of life — although they know that life will be created in the lab before too much longer. When that happens, they’ll claim that it was done “by design,” which somehow leaves their supernatural claims intact — but no one with any sense will accept that.
So what else do they have? It seems to us that all they’re left with is nit-picking the evidence for the evolution of specific features of living organisms, and of course, the existence of wondrous creatures like ourselves, which only the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — could have created.
In their blundering way, the Discovery Institute is moving in that direction. We can see this in the newest post at their creationist blog: Mammals Compute Sound Timing in the Microsecond Range, which has no author’s by-line. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
At a basic level, we all know that two ears give us the ability to detect the direction of a sound. Cover one ear, and it’s hard to tell. Uncover; we hear in stereo. But when you look into the physics of sound localization, the requirements are stringent.
[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh — stringent requirements! [*End Drool Mode*] Then they say:
Sound waves coming from the left hit your left eardrum only microseconds (millionths of a second) before they hit the right eardrum. Your ears must not only be able to capture that tiny difference in arrival time, but preserve the information through noisy channels on the way to the brain. And they must be able to do that continuously. Consider an ambulance siren moving left to right; the inter-aural time difference (ITD) is constantly changing. Your ears need to keep up with the microsecond-by-microsecond changes as they occur, without the prior information getting swamped by the new information.
[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh — how is that possible? [*End Drool Mode*] They tell us:
Two neurobiologists from the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, appreciating the problem of maintaining sound localization information, decided to run experiments on mice and gerbils.
Gerbils? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We all miss Casey Luskin. The Discoveroids continue:
Think how much closer together those ears are than human ears! The smaller inter-aural distance compounds the problem, tightening the requirements even more. Under the news headline “Auditory perception: where microseconds matter,” Drs. Grothe and Pecka announce what they found.
If you want learn about the gerbil’s auditory perception, here’s the paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS): Input timing for spatial processing is precisely tuned via constant synaptic delays and myelination patterns in the auditory brainstem . You can read it on-line without a subscription.
Okay, back to the Discoveroids. After several paragraphs of details we don’t need, they say:
Our brief look into the complexity of auditory localization in mammals provides a good example of not only Behe’s irreducible complexity [Hee hee!], but also what [Discoveroid] Douglas Axe calls functional coherence, “the hierarchical arrangement of parts needed for anything to produce high-level function — each part contributing in a coordinated way to the whole” [link to Axe’s book omitted].
Gasp — they have evidence for their theory of intelligent design! Here’s how the Discoveroid article ends:
Functional coherence is not just beyond the reach of chance (Axe, p. 160), it provides positive evidence for intelligent design. [Hee hee!] In all our uniform human experience, only minds are capable of engineering complex, hierarchical systems exhibiting functional coherence. The complexity of this one circuit — sound localization — makes that loud and clear.
So there you are, dear reader. The Discoveroids have evidence. What do you have? You got nothin’! Evolution is a theory for fools!
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