Category Archives: Evolution

Creationist Wisdom #729: The Challenge

We have another letter-to-the-editor today. This one appears in the Longview News-Journal of Longview, Texas. The headline is Letters on Clinton, Trump, evolution. You’ll see three letters there. Ours is the last of the three, titled “Stick to the facts.” The newspaper has a comments feature.

Because the 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 John. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

I wish science teachers would stick to teaching science in science class, not speculation on the unobserved past. [Hee hee!] One of the hallmarks of good education is simply observing what exists in the real world and trying to learn from it. Students need to be able to distinguish between fact and opinion. Promoting the current popular opinion as fact from an “expert” has led to embarrassing mistakes.

From his remark about the unobserved past, it’s not too difficult to guess what John has in mind. But first he reminds us of some “embarrassing mistakes” by experts. He says:

As a child I remember a new food product called margarine (instead of natural butter) was promoted for prevention of heart disease. Decades later we realize consumption of trans fats was the worst possible advice. Similarly the opinion about the consumption of eggs, coffee and chocolate being bad for us has flip-flopped too. Opinions vary, facts do not.

After those powerful examples of scientific idiocy, John tells us:

Evolution promoters resent any dissent despite the increasing difficulty of holding to the evolutionary bottom line philosophy of nothing plus nobody equals everything for no reason.

“Nothing plus nobody equals everything for no reason.” Yup — that’s a good description of evolution. John continues:

There are many reasons to doubt vertical macro evolution happened at all, given the incredible complexity of life all around us.

John doesn’t like vertical macro evolution. He prefers the horizontal micro-macro mambo. Now here comes the best part of the letter:

I challenge these promoters of evolution to cite any example anywhere of order and complexity arising from disorder by chance.

Well, dear reader. Are you able to meet John’s challenge? You’re not allowed to cheat by looking at Wikipedia’s article on Self-organization. While you’re pondering that, we’ll read on:

If evolution of creatures into totally different ones happened, then the fossil record should be mostly these in-between kinds (transitional forms). The fossil evidence is just not there in sufficient form to support this evolutionary idea of one type of creature turning into a totally different kind slowly over vast ages.

John thinks the fossil record should be almost nothing but transitional species. Well, properly understood, that’s mostly what it is — except for species that went extinct. And now we come to the end:

The world’s most-often quoted evolutionist is Oxford University’s Richard Dawkins and he has stated, “Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever devised in the mind of man.” Our children need education, not indoctrination.

John saved his strongest point for the end. Great letter, huh?

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Creationist Wisdom #728: Bathrooms & Big Bang

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears at the website of The Chattanoogan, an online media outlet that concentrates on news from Chattanooga, Tennessee. They don’t have a comments feature. The headline is Lessons From A New Bathroom.

Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — but today we’ve got a journalist. It’s Bob Tamasy, described as “a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor.” We’ll give you a few excerpts from his letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis. Okay, here we go!

It’s interesting what we can glean about eternal truth from everyday life circumstances. This came to mind recently while reading a newspaper columnist’s musings about building a new bathroom in his home.

You gotta admit, dear reader, that’s a unique beginning, and it’s certainly an attention grabber. Then he says:

This fellow explained about installing a subfloor, outlets and switches that actually worked, wiring, drywall and other elements required to make his bathroom functional and attractive. He ended his column with the observation, “I know what it took to get it to the shape it’s in now.” Imagine him proudly showing the new room to visiting guests.

Here’s where the journalist gets creative. Pay close attention:

They comment, “Wow! It looks great. Who built it?” and he replies, “You know, that’s the funny thing. No one built it. My wife and I always wanted a master bathroom, and then one day, voila, there it was! It just appeared.”

They might chuckle at first, but if they thought he was serious, they would either check him for a high fever, call 911, or slowly move toward the front door. Because we all know that something doesn’t come out of nothing. For every effect, there must be a cause.

Clever, huh? It’s a down-home way to explain that everything has a cause — even something as mundane as a bathroom. Now the journalist makes the point he was aiming at:

Yet there are many strident, stubborn proponents of the so-called Big Bang Theory, which asserts that one day (before there were days, or hours, or even minutes), an extraordinary event occurred for no reason, with no purpose, all on its own – bringing something out of absolutely nothing. No only that, but this “something” has turned out to be phenomenally orderly, generally functioning in very predictable ways that can be studied by various scientific disciplines. But, they claim, there was no first cause, no intelligent design, no meaning or purpose behind any of it. It just was, and is, and supposedly, always will be.

Those proponents of “the so-called Big Bang Theory” are obviously fools! Then he tells us:

I get it: If you reject God, if you refuse to believe or accept the idea of a divine Creator, you do have to come up with some alternative explanation. So the “Big Bang” seems to do the job, even though its original premise flies directly against everything we know and have observed, even though the eyes of science.

Yes, the Big Bang theory contradicts everything scientists see and know. Pay no attention to articles like this one from PhysOrg: What is the Big Bang Theory? The journalist knows better. He explains:

Our magnificent world, not to mention the entire universe, operates in wonderful harmony and amazing order. Even though the natural course of things – according to various theories and laws of physics – if left unmanaged, is to move toward disorder. (I could offer my desk as proof; I straighten it up, and seemingly within moments, it’s already turning back into a mess.)

Another brilliant, down-home example! Like the universe, the journalist’s desk tends to get messy. It’s all in accordance with the Second law of thermodynamics. After a few more cozy examples, like restaurants, automobiles, and leaves changing color in the fall, he announces:

[T]hese serve as reminders that the orderly creation we observe is the result of the exquisite mind of the Creator God, who informs us, “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD” [scripture reference].

And now we come to the thrilling end of the journalist’s letter:

If there was a Big Bang, and perhaps there was, it’s the one described in Genesis 1, when God spoke everything into being: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light…. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good …” [scripture reference]. If you need proof, you don’t need to look any farther than someone’s refurbished bathroom.

That was truly a unique letter. A wonderful addition to our collection.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Prepare for a Creationist Feeding Frenzy

Look what we found at PhysOrg: Flawed analysis casts doubt on years of evolutionary research. It’s the sort of headline every creationist dreams of. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Years of research on the evolution of ancient life including the dinosaurs have been questioned after a fatal flaw in the way fossil data is analysed was exposed. Studies based on the apparently flawed method have suggested Earth’s biodiversity remained relatively stable – close to maximum carrying capacity – and hinted many signs of species becoming rapidly extinct are merely reflections on the poor quality of the fossil record at that time.

Then they tell us about the problem:

However, new research by scientists at the University of Reading suggests the history of the planet’s biodiversity may have been more dynamic than recently suggested, with bursts of new species appearing, along with crashes and more stable periods.

As we read this, we’re trying to figure out what creationists can do with it. Nothing comes to mind yet, because we don’t see anything that challenges the age of the Earth or the vast amount of evidence for evolution. Moving along:

The new study, published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution by Dr Manabu Sakamoto and Dr Chris Venditti, from Reading, and Professor Michael Benton, from Bristol, says a technique used to ‘correct’ records of diversity in fossils is actually giving misleading results. It means almost a decade’s worth of work aimed at providing an insight into evolution may be misleading as it was based on this fundamental error.

This is the published paper: ‘Residual diversity estimates’ do not correct for sampling bias in palaeodiversity data. All you can see is the abstract, unless you have a subscription. We’ll stay with PhysOrg. They say:

The method [which the new paper challenges] assumes that variations in the number of different fossils at any given time are a reflection of how much rock was available. It has been used in more than 150 published research papers since it was first used in 2007. Dr Sakamoto, evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading, said: “Our work calls into question nearly a decade’s worth of scientific reports and interpretations on the way life on Earth has evolved.”

Interesting, but we don’t yet see much cause for creationist celebrations. One final excerpt:

Professor Mike Benton, Earth Scientist at University of Bristol, said: “The core assumption is that any portion of fossil diversity that can be explained by variations in rock volume should be explained by variations in rock volume. This assumption is based on no evidence. At the extreme, if you have no rock you get no fossils. However, there are many cases where two time intervals are represented by the same amount of rock worldwide, and yet fossil diversity varies massively. Explain that.”

Assuming this paper is correct, what we have here is a good example of science correcting itself. We note that the problem — assuming there is one — wasn’t discovered by creationists, and it doesn’t appear to challenge anything fundamental about either the age of the Earth or the fact of evolution. It certainly doesn’t challenge the radiometric method of determining the age of fossils or rock strata. So maybe the creationists won’t be celebrating. Nah — we’re dreaming. They’re already trying to figure out some way to puff this up into a major “scandal.” It’ll be fun to see how they handle it.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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The Intelligent Designer — Still a Buffoon

Buffoon Award

Way back in the early days of this humble blog we posted Buffoon Award Winner — The Intelligent Designer. The design failures we mentioned were so obvious and unarguable, it never occurred to us that the Discovery Institute would ever attempt a rebuttal.

But that’s what we see today at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog: Is the Human Form Riddled with Bad Design? It was written by Jonathan Witt, a Discoveroid “senior fellow.” They say he has a Ph.D., with honors [huh?], in English and Literary Theory from the University of Kansas. We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

He begins by quoting some hell-bound evolutionist who dares to criticize the designer’s handiwork:

“You have no idea how awful the human body is,” Matan Shelomi begins in a recent Medical Daily article. He goes on to argue that the human body is badly designed in many ways, and that this shows we’re the product of blind Darwinian trial-and-error evolution. “To say that humans were ‘intelligently designed’ by a ‘creator’ is to insult God,” Shelomi writes, “because our bodies show no intelligent design at all.”

Gasp — that’s blasphemy! Witt is furious. He says:

Wow, our bodies show no intelligent design at all? Even most atheist biologists grant that living things, including human beings, appear intelligently designed. Professional atheist Richard Dawkins, for instance, went so far as to define biology as the study of things in nature that have the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s quite a distortion of Dawkins’ statement. After that extreme example of quote-mining, Witt tells us:

But Shelomi sets aside the engineering marvels of the human genome along with countless other marvels of the human body that far outstrip our most advanced human technologies, and instead focuses on a handful of features he insists are badly designed. The glass for him, in other words, isn’t 99 percent full; it’s one percent empty.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Of course our bodies perform the functions required to keep us alive. Were it otherwise, then like 99% of the species of which we have knowledge, we wouldn’t be here — see Wikipedia’s article on Extinction. But if we were the product of an intelligent designer, rather than evolution, why should we have any defects? Witt offers various excuses for the design of our eyes. He quotes Shelomi again:

But our eyes go bad, and sometimes all too soon. “Then you have all of the eye problems like myopia, glaucoma, cataracts — why do our eyes fail so often?” Shelomi asks. “Who designed these faulty things? The answer can’t be a God, because a God so incompetent in designing vision sensors isn’t worth worshipping.”

This is Witt’s response:

Notice he is now doing theology: A God worth worshipping would have designed our eyes and the rest of our bodies so that they are free of defects and disease. This element of his argument, in other words, is a version of the problem-of-pain argument: A good and all-powerful creator wouldn’t allow pain and suffering in the world.

It’s a fair question — an important question. But if Shelomi is going to invoke a theological argument, he should engage the theological explanations, and for that matter, the sociological and historical record showing pretty clearly that, as Lord Acton famously put it, “Power tends to corrupt.”

It looks like Witt is dragging in the Problem of evil. Theologians have been struggling with that for millennia. We’ve never seen it used in a biological context before, so let’s give Witt credit for creativity. Then he says:

[T]hreaded throughout Shelomi’s essay is the assumption that any intelligent designer worth his salt would surely have given humans all sorts of additional powers or capacities found elsewhere in the animal kingdom (for example, the ultraviolet vision he notes that bees possess).

We raised the same questions. Other animals have better sensory equipment, the ability to replace teeth throughout their lives, the ability to regenerate lost limbs, immunity to cancer, etc. We have none of those features. This is Witt’s response:

But let’s pause and ask the question the mad scientists in all those science fiction movies never stop to ask: Is it really a good idea to loose a super-powered subspecies of human onto planet earth?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s his excuse? Yes. He expands on it in his final paragraph:

It’s easy to think of reasons why it would actually be pretty stupid to do so. Man already is arguably too effective a predator. Just ask the megafaunal species of the Quaternary extinction event — the wooly mammoths and giant sloths and such. Oh wait. You can’t. They’re all dead.

So there you are, dear reader. The intelligent designer, in his infinite wisdom, deliberately designed us with defects. The next time you have to replace your eye glasses with a more powerful version, or visit the dentist, or have trouble with your back, be sure to give thanks to the designer, whose transcendental genius is revealed in your defects.

Although we appreciate Witt’s efforts, we’ll stick with our conclusion from years ago — the Designer is a slob, an incompetent, and virtually an imbecile, who has fairly earned our Buffoon Award.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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