ICR Demolishes Paul Braterman’s Argument

Paul Braterman is back in the news. You may recall that we recently wrote Hambo Attacks Snopes and Paul Braterman. That was about ol’ Hambo’s reaction to an article in Snopes titled Why Creationism Bears All the Hallmarks of a Conspiracy Theory, written by Paul Braterman, Hon. Research Fellow; Professor Emeritus in Chemistry, University of Glasgow — and a frequent contributor of comments for our humble blog.

Professor Braterman’s fame seems never-ending. Look what we found at the website of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the granddaddy of all creationist outfits, the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom. It’s titled Are Creationists Conspiracy Theorists?, and it was written by one of ICR’s top creation scientists — Jake Hebert. They say he has a Ph.D. in physics, and joined ICR as a research associate the same year that degree was awarded. Here are some excerpts from Jake’s article, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]. Oh, we’re also ignoring Jake’s footnotes.

Paul Braterman, emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Glasgow, recently claimed online that creationism “meets all the criteria” for a “conspiracy theory.” He says creationism offers “a complete parallel universe with its own organisations and rules of evidence, and [creationism] claims that the scientific establishment promoting evolution is an arrogant and morally corrupt elite.” Is this fair?

What do you think, dear reader — is Braterman’s claim fair? Jake says:

First, we should note that calling someone a “conspiracy theorist” is a quick and easy way to avoid having to deal with the intellectual arguments for his position. It is tantamount to calling him crazy. And we all know that attempting to reason with crazy people is pointless, right?

Even your humble Curmudgeon has said something like that — see Debating Creationists is Dumber Than Creationism. Anyway, Jake tells us:

Braterman says creationists demonize evolutionists, and he cites, presumably as evidence of this, former Georgia Congressman Paul Broun’s much-publicized 2012 claim that evolution is a lie “straight from the pit of hell”. But if one watches the YouTube video of Congressman Broun embedded in Braterman’s essay, he doesn’t personally attack evolutionists. He [Paul Broun] simply stated his belief (which we share) that evolution is a false doctrine, and like all false doctrines, it ultimately originates from Satan, the father of lies.

Broun’s claim is a genuine oldie goldie. We wrote about it nine years ago — see Congressman Broun on Evolution & the Big Bang. Our post had a video, but it no longer works, so if you want to see the madman make his claim, use the video in Braterman’s essay. Anyway, Jake doesn’t see anything wrong with what the congressman said, and he continues defending the “pit of hell” accusation:

That is not a personal attack on evolutionists, and it does not mean that all evolutionists are intentionally lying. [Of course not!] But it does mean that the theory evolutionists hold ultimately originated with an evil being who intends both us and them harm. Broun’s statement reflects on the deceit and not on the persons being deceived.

So Jake does agree that the theory of evolution comes from the pit of hell — but that’s not a personal attack, dear reader, so don’t get offended. Let’s read on:

It may be going too far to say that Braterman is demonizing creationists, but he certainly assumes evil in our motives. He claims creationism is a “deep-seated power struggle” between religious conservatives and liberals, suggesting that creationists don’t really believe what we profess and that we are unconcerned about evidential truth. He suggests that creationists are motivated by financial interests when he describes one particular creation exhibit, without any evidence, as “highly lucrative.”

Braterman’s article mentions that Hambo’s ark and museum are “highly lucrative,” so Jake is probably referring to that. Is Braterman wrong? Anyway, Jake’s assault on Braterman’s article continues:

His claim that creationists operate by different rules of evidence is unfounded. [Really?] You don’t convert skeptics to your position by inventing your own unique rules of evidence! Yet former skeptics are being converted both to creationism and Christianity by the sheer strength of the logic and evidence for biblical creation.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Yes, it’s the “sheer strength of the logic and evidence for biblical creation” that attracts creationists. Hey — you can’t miss this. Jake defends creationists’ presuppositions:

However, we freely admit our philosophical presuppositions: we believe without apology that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. [Nothing wrong with that!] Braterman also has his own worldview assumptions. He is a member of the National Center for Science Education [Gasp!], which is extremely hostile to the creation movement, and this is not the first time that he has publicly denounced the creationist movement. Has Dr. Braterman considered the possibility that his own presuppositions might be coloring the way he looks at the evidence?

Good question! And now we come to the end:

The entire essay is basically a giant ad hominem attack on creationists. It is instructive that this essay doesn’t attempt to answer creationists with any scientific evidence for evolution. Perhaps that’s because there isn’t any.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Yes, maybe Braterman doesn’t have any evidence. Great post, Jake!

Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

23 responses to “ICR Demolishes Paul Braterman’s Argument

  1. “so don’t get offended”
    Don’t worry, dear SC. A religious conspiracy theorist claiming that my views are coming from a non-existing entity/place is a compliment, a joke or both.

    “suggesting that creationists don’t really believe …..”
    Brother Jake, it doesn’t matter whether you really believe your crap or not. What you and your buddies produce about evolution theory remains full of falsehoods.

    “Has Dr. Braterman considered the possibility that his own presuppositions might be coloring the way he looks at the evidence?”
    I don’t know about PaulB, but I have. The answer is yes. One justification: geologists working for companies like Shell accept the same presuppositions. They find oil and gas, creacrappers don’t.
    In other words: science (as defined by PaulB and others) works, creacrap doesn’t.
    No creacrapper ever has been honest enough to consider this inconvenien facts.

    “The entire essay is basically a giant ad hominem attack on creationists.”
    BWAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, but “ultimately originates from Satan, the father of lies” isn’t.
    Lovely double standard, Jake the Hypocrite.
    And again a compliment to PaulB – I’m becoming jealous.

  2. Btw Jake’s accusation of ad hominem itself is a logical fallacy. I quote from

    https://www.logicallyfallacious.com

    “When the attack on the person is relevant to the argument, it is not a fallacy.”
    PaulB’s attack on creationists is totally relevant to the argument he makes.

  3. Credit where due; they do at least (unlike AiG) give a link to the article, as well as to its republication by Snopes. But alas (or reassuringy?) no uptick in readership as a result. Anyway, I have added this attack to my list of achievements.

    AiG criticised me for mentioning the way that they harp on Haeckel,1874, before devoting a paragraph to criticising Haeckel, 1874. ICR says that my “claim that creationists operate by different rules of evidence is unfounded”, before reaffirming that “we believe without apology that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.” Interesting.

    But I’m disappointed not to have heard so far from CMI or DI. I’m sure I would have learnt soooo much from them

  4. The claim that evolution is going to disappear in the next few years, that claim alone is a huge conspiracy theory.
    “… we believe without apology that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God”. Which means that their starting point is a 6,000 years old universe, created in 6 days. But that doesn’t qualify as a starting point in science. They don’t seem to get that.

  5. Ah the poor crecrappers. If they find evolution so confusing, I wonder what they think of quantum physics. I’m pretty sure at least some first year science students think that may have been started by some imaginary evil one.

  6. Abeastwood “wonder(s) what they think of quantum physics”.
    Search functions are our friends. A few quotes:

    “Quantum Fluctuations May Kill Big Bang Evangelism”

    “At any rate, quantum mechanics does accurately describe the microscopic world. What more can we expect from a physical theory? Therefore, the question of what quantum mechanics means is stupid. And the Copenhagen interpretation is a foolish answer to a stupid question.”
    Dannyboy, AIG.

    “Quantum mechanics may explain how birds actually see the earth’s magnetic field, at a subatomic level, and how they can tell a northern direction. Evolution has no explanations for such subatomic sensing. But this design feature is “clearly seen.”
    One Frank Sherwin, ICR

    “the Creator of all things had to have had a perfect understanding of the physical properties of the universe in order to have built biological systems that capitalize on the quantum structure of wave packets.”

    “Filippenko and like-minded scientists ignore the necessity of pre-existing space for quantum fluctuations to occur, ignore logical problems in obtaining laws of physics from nothing, and ignore the nature of God, all in the name of justifying their faith that the universe could come from nothing. In reality, without an infinite Creator, not only would there be no laws of physics that point sinful people to his existence, but there would be no universe at all
    Brawny Brian, ICR

    “My imaginary friend explained that according to quantum mechanics, the exact effects of these forces on any particular particle are impossible to predict with certainty. The new laws only provide the probabilities. I said, “You mean there is a supernatural force at work here?” He said, “Well, technically, yes, if you define the supernatural to be that which is forever beyond the ability of science to predict or explain.”
    Granny Sewer, Evolutionnews

    “Current “standard” physics has been at a dead end for quite a while now. ”
    “The universe began from ‘nothing’, quantum electro dynamics and SED [the author doesn’t say what that means – FrankB] agree on that. We believe that that ‘nothing’ actually is the beginning of God’s creation work. He creates from ‘nothing’, ex nihilo. In the Big Bang [sic] ones speaks of quantum fluctuations from, well, from what? Because a real Zero Point Field doesn’t exist there. It remains vague and – literally – elusive.”
    One Rinus Kiel, Logos.nl (my beloved Dutch YEC blog).

  7. I feel a new creacrap argument coming, inspired by Wikipedia’s

    “In quantum mechanics, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is any of a variety of mathematical inequalities asserting a fundamental limit to the accuracy with which the values for certain pairs of physical quantities of a particle, such as position, x, and momentum, p, can be predicted from initial conditions.”
    God is not limited like that by definition, hence God. Creacrap beats athiest evilutionist materialism.
    (Many fuzzy sciency words must be added)

  8. Charles Deetz ;)

    It is instructive that this essay doesn’t attempt to answer creationists with any scientific evidence for evolution.

    A. I think Jake missed the point of the essay.
    B. Paul is just following CS’s advice, don’t debate a creationist.

    A Qnon-er is anxious to debate with me who is really president right now, but I’m not going down that road, as much as I’d like to clear up the facts with them. They’d just say “we believe without apology that the Q drops are the inerrant Word of Truth.”

    I’ve said here before, the advice of a policeman in my youth, ‘don’t mess with crazy people’.

  9. @Charles Deetz 😉 Actually I did debate the creationists at some length in the Comments, of which are now 530, and do not regret doing so. I had a useful cross-conversation with my friend Gary Hurd, got to my own satisfaction the measure of Sarfati (a big disappointment), had practice in sharpening my arguments, and I am told impressed bystanders

  10. “…Satan, the father of lies….” And unlike the ahole chrisANAL gawd..show me where satan lied???

  11. @FrankB: wow, it’s true, you can find (almost) anything on the web. Any day now I’m sure the ICR will post their favorite god’s url there to show us the truth of their claims.

  12. While the Internet has been a boon in so many ways, it has encouraged the nutters to come out from wherever they were lurking. While preaching (?) the rule that everyone is entitled to voice their opinion, they are quick to dump on contrary views. Bit like we do. 🙂 But then, we go a step further and actually provide lines of reasoning for them to follow. ‘There is only one bible’ is so contrary to the numerous conflicting versions out there that you have to wonder at their sanity.

  13. Paul Braterman:
    “I have added this attack to my list of achievements.”

    Bravo!

  14. Charley Horse X

    I think Jake doth protest too much….

  15. chris schilling

    “He simply stated his belief (which we share) that evolution is a false doctrine, and like all false doctrines, it ultimately originates from Satan, the father of lies.”

    That’s a freakin’ conspiracy theory, right there. Blaming “Satan” for anything is to indulge in conspiracy thinking. (The joke’s on creationists, though, in invoking Satan — it puts them in the company of Zoroastrianism).

  16. As usual, my take on it is at a slight slant. Hebert is selectively quoting the Scripture he tells us is the inerrant word of God, with the intention to distort its meaning. Even to reverse it.

    The statement that Satan is the father of lies comes from John 8:44, and it is rubric, the quoted words of Jesus himself. But that is not all that Jesus is quoted as saying on the subject, not by a long chalk.

    In the very same verse, John 8:44, speaking to those in the Temple who did not believe his claims, he said: “Your father is the devil, and you choose to carry out your father’s desires”.

    So Hebert’s assertion “Broun’s statement (that evolution is a lie from the pit of hell) reflects on the deceit and not on the persons being deceived” is false to the words of Jesus himself. Broun – and I think Hebert – knows perfectly well that Jesus said that those who choose to tell and spread lies are progeny of Satan. They choose to carry out their father’s desires. Paul Braterman is such a person. The rest follows.

    Thus, in direct contradiction to Hebert, Jesus certainly DID reflect on the persons being deceived. If evolution is “a lie from the pit of hell”, we cannot plead before the Throne that we were deceived. We were carrying out our Father’s desires, and will now spend eternity with him.

    I suppose it’s of a piece. Creationists relentlessly quote mine scientists to distort and reverse their meaning. It shouldn’t surprise me that they’d do the same to the words of the man they call God. This is just another one of their falsehoods. Tell me, Mr Hebert, who is the liar here?

  17. I have carelessly made an unintentional imputation. I wrote:

    “those who choose to tell and spread lies are progeny of Satan. They choose to carry out their father’s desires. Paul Braterman is such a person.”

    I meant that IF evolution were a lie, AND IF those who tell lies are progeny of Satan (as Jesus stated) then Paul Braterman would be such a person. Of course evolution is no lie, and Satan is at best a metaphor, so Paul Braterman is NOT such a person.

    I would like to unequivocably withdraw the unintentional slur and apologise for any distress caused.

  18. @Dave Luckett, it’s ok; I know that you were speaking allegorically.

    More seriously, it was completely obvious you were stating *their* point of view, not your own. Sometimes doing this can lead to real mistakes, as in Lederberg’s (?) critique of Sagan, which I had not realised was an expose of the inadequacy of Sagan’s views, until someone told me about it here. The relevant passage is frequently quoted by creationists, at face value, to show that scientists refuse on principle to accept the supernatural

  19. Knight of the Realm Braterman thus spake:

    to show that scientists refuse on principle to accept the supernatural

    I simply accept that as a shortcut much like memorizing basic equations of thermodynamics rather than deriving them from first principles every time. I think it’s perfectly proper to use the Nelson Rebuttal for any creationist claim: I see no ships.

    Time wasted arguing is mockery missed!

  20. @Docbill1351, I’m sure we agree that we don’t waste time on the supernatural, precisely because experience shows that it is a waste of time, not because it is a priori off-limits.

    The accusation of making it a priori off-limits, and therefore smuggling in the metaphysical assumption from the start, is one commonly levelled by creationists, and indeed expertly argued in Phillip Johnson’s Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. Lederberg is accusing Sagan of having actually been guilty of this in the Daemon-Haunted World. Many people, including me, incorrectly assume that Lederberg was actually stating his own opinion, rather than skewering Sagan’s. It is not In principle that I refuse to accept the supernatural, but because the search for it has proved scientifically futile, its explanatory value (as TomS repeatedly reminds us) is vacuous, and it inevitably raises more questions regarding mechanism than it purports to solve.As I’ve argued here before, the distinction between such pragmatic methodological naturalism, which scientists actually practice, and intrinsic methodological naturalism, which creationists accuse us of practising and which would indeed be unnecessary philosophical baggage, is an important one.

  21. To the credit of creacrappers, the step from methodological naturalism to philosophical naturalism is a rather small one exactly because

    1. not only is the explanatory value of supernaturalism vacuous, it lacks coherence (supernatural entities by definition lack the means to mess with our natural reality, because all those means also are natural);
    2. it inevitably raises more questions regarding mechanism than it purports to solve (Ockham’s Razor applies to philosophy as well);
    and 3. there are no reliable methods to do research on the presupposed supernatural domain (hence thousands of christian denominations).

    This may be superfluous philosophical baggage for scientists, it makes it understandable why creacrappers so stubbornly maintain that they are doing real science. They want to have that bandwagon for their own to compensate for their lack of credibility. So to say they want to jump the small gap between methodological and philosophical naturalism in the opposite direction as I have done.

  22. @FrankB
    Thanks for bringing up a favorite objection of mine to “analogy of design”.

    Ever since Socrates talked about “design”, there has been the odd observation that such-and-such was so much beyond anything which is designed, that that meant that such-and-such must be designed

  23. @TomS: Our quibbling tends to hide the fact that we agree much more than disagree …..