Discoveroids: Creationism & the Rainbow

This one at the creationist blog of the Discovery Institute is weird — really weird. It’s titled Earth — The Mystery of Our Colorful Home, and it was written by Guillermo Gonzalez, or “Gonzo” as we call him. He co-authored the classic creationist book, The Privileged Planet, a “fine tuning” argument applied to Earth. Here are some excerpts from Gonzo’s post, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

“Oh my God! Look at that picture over there! There’s the Earth coming up! Wow, that’s pretty!” These were the words William Anders spoke to the other two Apollo 8 crew members, Jim Lovell and Frank Borman, just before he took the now famous “earthrise” picture on December 24, 1968.

Everyone knows that photo, but if you don’t, you can see it at Wikipedia: Earthrise. You’re probably wondering: What does that have to do with creationism? Be patient, dear reader. We assume Gonzo will get to it. He says:

Notice how Anders reacted to the view of Earth rising over the lunar limb; these were obviously spontaneous reactions to something that caught him off guard. He expressed surprise and noted how pretty it looked. [So what?] These are expressions of beauty. A beautiful thing surprises us. The fact that the earthrise pictures have been reproduced so many times speaks to their universal appeal. Probably most people react the same way Anders did the first time they see the picture.

Come on, Gonzo — where’s the creationism? He tells us:

Reflecting on his experience from 50 years before, Anders wrote, “The Earth we saw rising over the battered grey lunar surface was small and delicate, a magnificent spot of color in the vast blackness of space…. We are all, together, stewards of this fragile treasure.” … Earth’s vivid colors contrast with the moon’s dull grey surface. To Carl Sagan and his followers [wretched secularists, all of them,] Earth is merely a pale blue dot set against the vast emptiness of space (when viewed from a great distance), but to those with different eyes Earth is like a precious jewel in the rough (think emerald).

Ooooooooooooh! Gonzo has the sensitivity to see Earth with different eyes! He continues:

Up close, Earth offers yet more beauty — verdant hills, white sandy beaches, turquoise lakes, towering mountains, deep red canyons, rainbows, and colorful sunsets and sunrises, to name a few instances. … In most of these cases, vibrant color is an important part of what makes a thing beautiful.

We still haven’t seen any creationism. Let’s read on:

Space artist Don Davis has produced a helpful website [link omitted] where he discusses the true colors of the planets (and some moons) in the Solar System. Scrolling down near the bottom of the page, you will see color patches representing the colors present on the surfaces of the bodies in their proper proportions. Earth displays a more diverse range of colors than the other bodies. It comes closest to having all the colors of the rainbow.

Yeah, yeah — Mars is red, Uranus is blue — but so what? Is there ever going to be any creationism in this thing? Here’s another excerpt:

It seems curious that the only body in the Solar System known to be inhabited would be the most colorful and, arguably, the most beautiful one. Why would color and beauty be associated with life?

Okay, we give up. Tell us, Gonzo — why? Here comes the explanation:

Materialists have attempted to explain beauty in living things by appealing to natural and sexual selection, but these seem inadequate [omitted link to a Discoveroid article]. Note that merely providing physical explanations for these phenomena, such as rainbows and green plants, will not answer our question.

All right, all right — what’s the answer? We’re at the end of Gonzo’s post, so it’s time for him to show us what he’s got:

Certainly, there is no logical reason why life should be wedded to the transcendental value of beauty.

Huh? That’s it? We seem to be missing something. Can you explain it to us, dear reader?

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25 responses to “Discoveroids: Creationism & the Rainbow

  1. Laurette McGovern

    Sorry, no I can’t. Gibberish is not part of my lexicon.

  2. Michael Fugate

    Is transcendence the reason for “God of the Gaps”?
    Why beauty? God

  3. I wish I could talk to this dumbass. I take it he’s never seen a picture from the hubble space telescope, where magnificent beauty not only doesn’t exist for humans, it isn’t even visible to humanity unless you go into outer space and point a huge freaking telescope at it. So much for that dumb line of reasoning.

  4. Eddie Janssen

    Oops, forgot to mention that in the link the red colors are enhanced.

  5. There is no reason why our eyes are adapted to see the spectrum of colors?
    OK, I’ll buy that. So why would a designer design them that particular way? Just because you can’t think of a reason, that doesn’t mean that your imagination supplies a reason.
    Better yet, why would not the designer design our eyes to discriminate four different colors? ( See tetrachromat.)
    Why not give us sight like the mantis shrimp? Why are some people designed without the majority vision?

  6. According to the Ball State University department of physics and astronomy, Gonzo is no longer working there. The other creationist in the department moved to BIOLA a year or so ago.

  7. Gonzo is no longer at Ball State? That’s news! How did we miss it? The Wikipedia article on him still says he’s at Ball State.

    The Discoveroids’ bio page on Gonzo says he’s at Ball State.

  8. Not always news when a person leaves. I checked out Ball State, did a search – nothing. Went to Physics/Astronomy and he’s not on the faculty. No entry in the phone directory, no entries for papers or lectures. Nothing.

    I did find a Rate My Professor from Nov 2019 that said, “Avoid this professor.”

    He could be an adjunct “professor” or a temp instructor, but he’s definitely not on the faculty page.

  9. Good old Linkedin!

    Gonzo departed Ball State in May, 2019.

    Lists himself as an “Experienced Assistant Professor” and currently with … drum roll … The Tooters! Apparently, running a Tooter Field Office in the Muncie, Indiana area. Living off of charity, the Tooter way!

  10. Gonzo did five years as an Assistant Professors with no apparent papers, research money, grad students, teaching accolades – zero, zilch, nada, nothing. With Rate My Prof ratings in the dumps I suspect the department figured Gonzo was going nowhere, decided to cut him loose and bring in some new blood.

    He’s pushing 57 with probably zero to a pitiful retirement package. I suspect he’ll try to follow Hedin to some Bible college, or pull a Dembski and sell insurance. (No, I don’t know if Dembski sells insurance.)

  11. Michael Fugate
    He is selling software systems…

  12. Sounds like Gonzo should know that the moon is tidally locked and so there is no way for there to be an “earth rise”.

  13. Our three-colour vision is based on a gene doubling event in old world monkeys, and on the fact that for fruit-and leaf-eaters it is adaptive to be able to tell the difference between red and green. A wonderful example of evolution in action. It is also easy to see why the ability to find beauty on the planet where you live should be adaptive. A pity that Gonzalez doesn’t seem to understand these things.

  14. @Paul Braterman
    It is one thing not to understand how adaptation to environment has explanatory power.
    It is yet another not to understand how “everything is equally possible” does not explain how, or why, what happens to be the case, rather than any of the uncounted alternatives.

  15. Michael Fugate

    Why did the designer put the needed genes on the X chromosome – do they not like males? Why make other autosomal dominants? Doesn’t seem as if they are fans of color vision after all.

    Red-green color vision defects and blue cone monochromacy are inherited in an X-linked recessive pattern. The OPN1LW and OPN1MW genes are located on the X chromosome, which is one of the two sex chromosomes. In males (who have only one X chromosome), one genetic change in each cell is sufficient to cause the condition. Males are affected by X-linked recessive disorders much more frequently than females because in females (who have two X chromosomes), a genetic change would have to occur on both copies of the chromosome to cause the disorder. A characteristic of X-linked inheritance is that fathers cannot pass X-linked traits to their sons.

    Blue-yellow color vision defects are inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, which means one copy of the altered OPN1SW gene in each cell is sufficient to cause the condition. In many cases, an affected person inherits the condition from an affected parent.

  16. chris schilling


    Sagan was smart
    Gonzo: you’re not
    Now get the hell off
    This pale blue dot

    “Rainbows and Green Plants”
    Sounds Dr. Seussian
    But they’re not very beautiful
    If you’re a Venusian

    When they wax oh-so lyrical
    About the transcendent
    Just quote the boy Simpson
    And tell them “Get bent!”

  17. Ai Carumba!

  18. @TomS: “It is one thing …. It is yet another …..”
    Both are necessary conditions for being a creacrapper.

  19. As anyone who has read Sagan’s books or seen Cosmos can attest to, Mr Sagan was full of breathless admiration for nature and the universe.

    What Sagan wasn’t, though, and Gonzo is, is full of baloney.

    (Incidentally, my spell checker says Sagan is in the dictionary and Gonzo isn’t. Probably expelled.)

  20. @TomS, the supernaturalist might use this syllogism:

    X happened
    X could not have been caused by natural means
    Therefore X was caused by supernatural means

    I don’t think either of us would be impressed. I reject the argument on something like Bayesian or Humean terms; it is more likely that the second premise is false, than that the conclusion is true.

    But am I right in thinking that you also have a more subtle objection to the meaningfulness, let alone the truth, of the conclusion?

  21. @Paul Braterman
    My objection is not to there being a supernatural cause, but to there being a supernatural explanation.
    The appeal to the supernatural does not make anything more or less likely. What can we expect if it is due to an act of God?

  22. @TomS, I think I get it. As I see it, invoking a supernatural cause does explain the bald fact that something happened despite (the supernaturalist would claim) natural causes being ruled out, but nothing more. It does not explain, as we expect a scientific theory to explain, why X happened rather than Y, and you are requiring the latter before something rises to the level of an explanation

  23. @Paul Braterman
    Yes, but I think that it’s generally true, not only in science.
    What does one expect as an explanation for the smile in the Mona Lisa? I know that the Mona Lisa was intelligently designed, but that doesn’t satisfy as an explanation for the smile.

  24. @TomS, I love that “not only in science.” I don’t think that science has got any special epistemology that is not shared with other non-trivial publicly discussed matters. And I assume that any argument that refers to “the scientific method” is ill-informed hot air