Discoveroids: Evolution and The Blob

Most of you have seen The Blob. It was perhaps the first of an endless number of movies with the same plot: teenagers save the world from aliens. According to Wikipedia:

The storyline concerns a growing, corrosive, alien amoeboidal entity that crashes to Earth from outer space inside a meteorite. It devours and dissolves citizens in the small communities of Phoenixville and Downingtown, PA, growing larger, redder, and more aggressive each time it does so, eventually becoming larger than a building.

Klinghoffer is invoking the imagery of the Blob today at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog. He just posted From Darwin’s Rhapsody, to The Blob. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Paul Nelson made an excellent point earlier today, noting that Darwin’s theory was conceived as a sort of romantic, rhapsodic vision.

This is Nelson’s post at the Discoveroids’ blog: Darwin’s Rhapsody. It’s just quote-mining, but Klinghoffer is inspired. He says:

Someone could respond that whatever the circumstances of its conception, evolution is now to be embraced as a fully supported, indeed irrefutable scientific fact. A friend, however, commends this passage from biologist Wayne Rossiter’s book Shadow of Oz [link omitted] for its delightful analogy characterizing evolutionary theory not in Darwin’s hands but today. Rossiter draws an apt comparison to a classic sci-fi/horror film.

Ooooooooooooh! Darwin’s theory compared to a horror film! Klinghoffer quotes from Rossiter’s book. We won’t bother to put any of it in bold, or interject anything. Just enjoy it as it is:

As it stands now, evolutionary theory attempts to represent stasis (non-change), devolution (loss of complexity or form), gradual change, and geologically sudden massive change, all at the same time. To date, no rendering of Darwin’s theory serves as a law by which any one of these outcomes can be expected or predicted. What good is a theory if it cannot predict outcomes or explain history?

This situation reminds me of that classic science fiction film, The Blob (1958). In the movie, Earth is visited by a somewhat unexpected alien guest. The alien life form is a mindless jelly that continually grows as it absorbs everything it touches. There is seemingly no way to combat the creature, as bullets, missiles and bombs are simply absorbed into the ever-growing monster. In many ways, this is what the theory of evolution has become. The pattern may be discernible, but the process escapes us. The number of one-off unique scenarios are as endless as the variety of explanations Darwin’s theory engenders. All of them are held true within a massive blob that is modern evolutionary theory. That the ideas often contradict or logically exclude one another is apparently not a problem. Karl Popper was right when he observed that, “every ‘good’ scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things to happen. The more a theory forbids, the better it is. A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue of a theory (as people often think) but a vice.” If nothing else, the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution is clearly like no other universal metatheory. It is far too complex, convoluted, and incoherent to be awarded such a status.

Wowie — this is a great example of Discoveroid research! Klinghoffer is thrilled, and he ends his post with this:

That is perfect. We’ve recommended Dr. Rossiter’s book in the past as “one of the most comprehensive books critiquing theistic evolution to date,” and I take the opportunity to do so again.

What can we say? According to the Discoveroids, evolution theory is the Blob, because it can absorb anything. But it can’t. In the first month of this humble blog we posted Where Are The Anachronistic Fossils? Our point was — and still is — that no evidence contradicts evolution theory. Also, evolution makes predictions that — when evidence is found — are always supported by the evidence. Our favorite example is The Lessons of Tiktaalik.

It’s intelligent design “theory” that behaves like the Blob, because no matter what is discovered, the Discoveroids’ reaction is: “That’s how the designer — blessed be he! — does things.” That’s why we posted Intelligent Designer or Zeus?

Anyway, perhaps this silliness will be a new theme for the Discoveroids. We’re the Blob, and they’re the meticulous theoreticians whose detailed predictions are always true. Maybe you, dear reader, can suggest a movie title that accurately describes them.

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19 responses to “Discoveroids: Evolution and The Blob

  1. Mark Germano

    “What good is a theory if it cannot predict outcomes or explain history?”

    Oh, the sweet, sweet irony.

  2. @Mark Germano
    I recall, but I may be mistaken, that Michael Behe wrote something very similar in “Darwin’s Black Box”.

  3. “Karl Popper was right when he observed that, “every ‘good’ scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things to happen.”

    Scientific method is all that’s preventing them from seeing angels. It’s also preventing almost all of the designer’s endless supply of miracles from occuring. Shame on you Scientific Methodists!

  4. Michael Fugate

    One can read big chunks of Rossiter’s book online. It is hopelessly bad – his attempt at describing evolution by natural selection is bizarre to say the least (see Chap 5). He tries to play up the chance aspects so much that selection really doesn’t actual select anything.

    And of course, he has the cookie cutter “conversion” bio. Hey kids, I was an atheist, honest, and an evolutionist, then I found Jesus, studied the evidence and realized I was brain-washed by public education. The earth is young, the flood was worldwide, species don’t change, etc. etc.

    As I have said before, when you believe in an agent god, you have to give it something to do – today. If a god is controlling everything down to keeping atoms together, where is the space for “free will” again?

  5. I found the movie title I was looking for to describe the Discoveroids’ theory: It Came from Uranus.

  6. Michael Fugate

    In a theological pissing match like this one, there can be no winners (how would one know), but science will always be treated as a urinal.

  7. Michael Fugate

    The Alamo (2004)
    The film about a lost cause received mixed reviews and bombed commercially, losing an estimated $146 million.

  8. Karl Popper was right when he observed that, “every ‘good’ scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things to happen. The more a theory forbids, the better it is. A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific.

    Yes, that’s true, which is why “intelligent design” isn’t really a theory. Any contrary evidence is waved away as irrelevant, wrongly understood or fake.

    As for evolution, if it could be proved that this planet were only 6,000 years old, or even the 20 million Lord Kelvin (no quack but rather a top-ranked scientist) A href=””>calculated in the 19th century, the theory of evolution would collapse. But Kelvin was wrong; his estimate was based on simple radiative cooling of the earth and took no account of heat generated by radioactivity, which had not yet been discovered. And in the time since, no one has come up with any evidence favoring a young earth, however much creationists may insist otherwise. AS for the old-earthers, nobody’s come up with anything beyond hand-waving about how the universe looks designed and therefore was designed.

  9. Sorry; this is the link.

  10. @Eric Lipps
    A footnote to Kelvin’s estimates of the age of the Earth. John Perry pointed out an unwarrented assumption in Kelvin’s calculations. See the Wikipedia article John Perry (engineer), section: Challenging Lord Kelvin

  11. The discoveroid scientists should be out looking for a pre-Cambrian rabbit fossil. If they found one, maybe we’d pay more attention to them.

  12. I suggest those interested in Intelligent Design show some work on an explanation which does not involve evolution.

  13. The Stanley Kramer 1965 film “Ship of Fools” springs to mind as a useful description of Discovery Institute.

    There’s a fairly obscure, cult movie from the mid-70’s, set in Melbourne, about a group of junkies trying to score heroin: it’s called “Pure S**T, or sometimes “Pure S.”

    I could always e-mail Klinghoffer, offering the latter title as a “delightful analogy” characterizing Intelligent Design, but he’d no doubt accuse me of being merely crude and offensive; you know how we Darwinians are.

    He’d be right.

  14. “devolution (loss of complexity or form)”
    At every turn creationists proudly display their willful ignorance. Devolution is not a scientific term. It is a scientific illiterate term for the opposite of what the speaker imagines evolution to be (from simple to complex). In reality the opposite of evolution is stasis. Evolution involves change and it does not matter about any perceived “direction”. Snakes evolved their legless forms from original quadruped reptiles. Whales evolved from hooved quadruped wolf-like animals. There are amoeba with genomes that are over 200X larger than the human genome, making the amoeba far more complex than humans. Of course creationists much prefer willful ignorance so that they can ignore facts that soundly contradict their imaginative fantasies. Note that the DI claims to have biologists on their staff, yet they still don’t know anything about molecular biology.

  15. Actually, now that I think of it: the incessant, mind-numbing tedium of Klinghoffer’s articles touting ID remind me a little of the cinematic master of boredom, Warhol.

    “Trash” might be the most apt title to sum up what the DI goes in for. Joe Dallesandro plays an impotent junkie, kind of like what Klinghoffer turned out to be, despite never having taken a walk on the wild side.

  16. SC, there may be a word missing from the very last line of the OP…

  17. Referring to the persistence of creationist idiocy, may I suggest the movie title The Night of the Living Dead?

  18. You’re correct, skmarshall. The word “describes” was left out. The sentence has been fixed, and it now says: “Maybe you, dear reader, can suggest a movie title that accurately describes them.”

  19. “It’s just quote-mining, but Klinghoffer is inspired.”
    Given that we all have learned to know Klinkleclapper so well last few years I suggest two corrections:

    “It’s just quote-mining, and Klinghoffer is inspired.”
    Or even

    ” It’s just quote-mining, so Klinghoffer is inspired.

    When it comes to the mindset of Klinkleclapper and co I cannot help thinking of movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Housewives of Stepford.