Category Archives: Evolution

Klinghoffer Defends Dr. Ben Carson

This article appeared yesterday at the website of Pacific Standard, a bimonthly magazine: Why Do Some Doctors Reject Evolution?. It has this sub-title: “Presidential hopeful Ben Carson isn’t the only practitioner who’s got some doubts.”

Ben Carson is a retired neurosurgeon, formerly the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, who is currently one of many seeking the Republican nomination for President. He’s almost universally liked — at least among Republicans — but he’s given virtually no chance to be the nominee. Practicing medicine is a fine thing, but it isn’t regarded as sufficient experience for the Presidency. He’s also a creationist, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in the Republican party these days.

We wrote about Dr. Carson only once before — Kirk Cameron Gets Award for “Excellence”. After that we stopped thinking about him. But here’s what the Pacific Standard says. Science journalist Francie Diep describes who Carson is and then asks, with our bold font added:

How can doctors deny evolution? We assumed such beliefs would be unusual among doctors. After all, evolution is the foundational principle of biology, which, in turn, is the basic science that backs medicine. Ninety-eight percent of scientists, a closely related profession, accept evolution.

That’s a good question, but we’ve run across creationist physicians before. Here’s the answer she offers:

Although doctors use many insights from biology, many don’t actually need to understand or believe in evolution correctly to do their jobs. “Most physicians are not scientists. This is not a knock, but they’re more akin to engineers,” Gorski says. [That’s David Gorski, a surgeon and researcher at Wayne State University.] “They take science that’s already known and they apply it to a problem, the problem being making patients better.”

Then Francie Diep writes:

When I asked if I should worry if I had a doctor who didn’t accept evolution, the consensus answer seemed to be: Not necessarily, but be cautious. “I think it depends on the specialty,” Gorski says. “To be honest, to do an operation, you probably don’t need to understand evolution. If you’re in infectious disease, however, where evolution to antibiotic resistance is a very important consideration, I would say it would not be a good thing not to accept evolution.”

There’s much more to the article, and it’s good reading, but we want to give you the reaction of the Discovery Institute, who have some physicians among their number. They just posted this at their creationist blog: Doctors and Evolution. It was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

In an almost charmingly naïve article, Francie Diep at Pacific Standard wonders, “Why Do Some Doctors Reject Evolution?” Her news peg is Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who has expressed reservations about Darwinian accounts of evolution — though I don’t know that anyone has questioned him sharply and in an informed way about his ideas on the subject.

No one who is really “informed” has questioned Carson about his creationism. Presumably, Klinghoffer would require the questioner to be informed about the glorious wonders of intelligent design. Then he repeats the Gorski quote that: “Most physicians are not scientists. This is not a knock, but they’re more akin to engineers.” Klinghoffer is offended. He says:

It’s not a knock? It sure sounds like one. The countervailing consideration is that physicians and engineers — and why not throw in computer scientists as well? — do something on a daily basis that evolutionary biologists never do. The doctor or engineer’s responsibility is to maintain, devise, or build complex systems, even from the ground up, systems that must operate continuously without fail. If the system does fail, then the physician, engineer, or computer scientist has flopped in his job.

Yes, that’s what they do. And it fits the Salem hypothesis. Let’s read on:

Luxuriously insulated from reality, biologists theorizing about the history of life, how it arose and developed, face no such pressure … . Vague stories and magic words typically substitute for detailed explanations of how biological systems could come into being through purposeless, unintelligent processes alone. It often seems that the only serious pressure that Darwinists do face is from us.

According to Klinghoffer, evolution is all “vague stories and magic words.” Of course, the Discoveroids would never deal in such. They don’t use meaningless magic words — like “specified complexity” and “fine tuning” and “information.” Their intelligent design theory is very specific about how biological systems come into being — the transcendent designer did everything when no one was looking. Klinghoffer continues:

Miss Diep rolls out the usual line about how evolution is vital to biology which is vital to medicine, ergo medicine needs evolution or ought to do so. But even some hardline Darwinists admit that the practical benefits of their cherished theory are scarce.

Practical benefits? Well, it’s true that we can send a man to the Moon using only physics, astronomy, and aeronautical engineering. But then, have there ever been any practical benefits from the Discoveroids’ “theory” of intelligent design? Could there ever be? If even the remotest possibility existed, then why doesn’t anyone other than bible colleges hire their “design theorists”?

Klinghoffer goes on a bit longer, but we’ve seen enough. All that remains is for Carson to join the Discovery Institute. But we doubt that he will. He may be a creationist, but we don’t think he’s that far gone. Well, we shouldn’t make any predictions. One never knows what a creationist will do.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Creationist Wisdom #574: Enemy of Evolution

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Charleston Gazette of Charleston, West Virginia — the capital and largest city of that state. It’s titled State standards enforce evolution propaganda. The newspaper has a comments section.

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 this one qualifies for full name treatment. He’s Karl Priest, a retired public school teacher in West Virginia with over 30 years experience as an educator including four years as a principal. He’s described at the website of something called the Patriot Action Network. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

Glenn Branch, (of the wrongly named “National Center for Science Education”) has given his blessing to the new state science standards. I guarantee that had the standards not met Branch’s approval he would have been howling.

Karl is probably referring to this which appeared a month ago at the site of our friends at NCSE: Science standards adopted in West Virginia, or maybe this: Reaction to West Virginia’s new science standards. The state made some minor revisions to the evolution-friendly Next Generation Science Standards, mostly regarding climate change. Although NCSE found the changes to be “mostly harmless,” Karl is alarmed. He says:

What folks do not know is that the NCSE is an enforcer of evolutionism propaganda.

Oh, how wicked! Let’s read on:

The recent Gazette article said the NCSE “defends the teaching of evolution.” They cry “creationism,” but as the history of the Kanawha County Schools evolution battles and previous state science standards battle proves, the NCSE will not even allow scientific criticism of evolution.

Gasp — they won’t even allow criticism! Karl continues:

My website (THE INSECTMAN) has the documentation including FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] facts of how deceitful evolutionists are. Without censorship evolution would not last a week.

Wowie — check it out. Karl has a powerful website! He boasts that the Charleston Gazette refers to him as “West Virginia’s best-known enemy of evolution.” Here’s more from his letter:

There will be responses to this letter calling me names and citing supposed “facts” of evolution like “bacterial resistance.” That and any other argument to support evolution are easily refuted with science. Simply contact me via my website.

Yes, it’s so easy to refute evolution. Moving along:

As for “Climate Change”, Branch said, “They’re now out of the hands of politicians who want to meddle with them.” The NCSE never hesitates to bring in politicians to support its dogma.

*Sigh* That’s always in response to creationist-initiated political activity. The letter concludes with another blast at climate change:

Global temperatures have fluctuated for thousands of years. The fear of “Climate Change” fanatics is for students to study data that disputes the slant of the NCSE. Actually it is a tenant of their Mother Earth religion and they will use their version of the data to bring about more of their liberal nonsense that is destroying society.

Hey, Karl: Science isn’t “liberal” — not in the sense that word is used today. It’s the study of reality — something that theocrats abhor. Science flourishes in a classically liberal society — one that is sufficiently prosperous and free from governmental control so that people have the resources and the freedom do research. That’s the kind of old-fashioned, classic liberalism we enjoy as a result of the Enlightenment . But religious fanatics don’t want that kind of society, do they?

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Discoveroids Continue Their “Magic” Theme

Yesterday we posted Discoveroids Cause Global Irony Meter Crash, in which the Discovery Institute introduced a bold new idea — that the theory of evolution, which they called the “chance hypothesis,” is based on “magical explanations,” while their bizarre concept of a transcendental intelligent designer is really great science.

Apparently, that wasn’t merely some wild, off-beat article. It looks like the start of a whole new Discoveroid theme. Today they’ve posted Warm-Bloodedness in an Ocean Fish Stuns Evolutionists.

But before we look at the Discoveroid post, let’s find out what they’re talking about. This is at the PhysOrg website: New research reveals first warm-blooded fish. A few excerpts should be sufficient.

New research by NOAA Fisheries has revealed the opah, or moonfish, as the first fully warm-blooded fish that circulates heated blood throughout its body much like mammals and birds, giving it a competitive advantage in the cold ocean depths.

“NOAA Fisheries” refers to the National Marine Fisheries Service, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Let’s read a bit more about the opah:

The silvery fish, roughly the size of a large automobile tire, is known from oceans around the world and dwells hundreds of feet beneath the surface in chilly, dimly lit waters. It swims by rapidly flapping its large, red pectoral fins like wings through the water. Fish that typically inhabit such cold depths tend to be slow and sluggish, conserving energy by ambushing prey instead of chasing it. But the opah’s constant flapping of its fins heats its body, speeding its metabolism, movement and reaction times, scientists report in the journal Science.

Here’s that article: Whole-body endothermy in a mesopelagic fish, the opah, Lampris guttatus. Without a subscription, all you can see is the abstract, so let’s get back to PhysOrg:

Wegner [Nicholas Wegner of NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif., lead author of the new paper] realized the opah was unusual when a coauthor of the study, biologist Owyn Snodgrass, collected a sample of its gill tissue. Wegner recognized an unusual design [Egad, he said “design”!]: Blood vessels that carry warm blood into the fish’s gills wind around those carrying cold blood back to the body core after absorbing oxygen from water.

One more excerpt:

The design [Egad, “design”!] is known in engineering as “counter-current heat exchange.” In opah it means that warm blood leaving the body core helps heat up cold blood returning from the respiratory surface of the gills where it absorbs oxygen. Resembling a car radiator, it’s a natural adaptation that conserves heat. The unique location of the heat exchange within the gills allows nearly the fish’s entire body to maintain an elevated temperature, known as endothermy, even in the chilly depths. “There has never been anything like this seen in a fish’s gills before,” Wegner said. “This is a cool innovation by these animals that gives them a competitive edge. The concept of counter-current heat exchange was invented in fish long before we thought of it.”

Okay, let’s find out what the Discoveroids say. We added a bit of bold font for emphasis:

It’s a big, round fish called the opah, found in deep waters around the earth and looking a bit like someone’s goldfish that seriously outgrew its bowl. Some fish, like tuna and sharks, can control temperature in parts of the body. This one can keep its whole body warm, giving it improved performance in the coldness of the depths. It’s the first example of whole-body endothermy in a fish, raising new questions about the evolution of a complex trait.

Oooooooooh — it raises new questions! Darwinism is dead. Let’s read on:

[Opra’s heating mechanism] is achieved by a “wonderful net” of blood vessels (rete mirabile, literally “miraculous web” in Latin) that provides an ingenious method to regulate core body temperature.

The published paper must have used that Latin phrase, because it certainly doesn’t sound like the Discoveroids. After quoting a lot from the published paper, the Discoveroids continue:

What do the authors say about how these adaptations evolved? Not much.

Oooooooooooh — Darwinism is doomed! They quote more from the published paper and then say:

The explanation? Convergent evolution to the rescue! This fish’s evolutionary history is tied to the depths. Give us more funding, and we can “further explore this key evolutionary innovation.”

Somewhat distorted, but never mind. Here’s the conclusion reached by the Discoveroids:

If that leaves you feeling unsatisfied, consider intelligence as a cause. Intelligence can take a solution that works in one environment and apply it in different animals in different environments.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Ah yes, that’s a well-established biological mechanism. Now here’s where they once again accuse scientists of invoking magic:

A rete mirabile is a complex system that cannot arise in a gradual, stepwise manner, because all the parts have to function together before any part has survival value. “Convergence” and “innovation” are magic words that provide no understanding.

Magic words! And now we come to the end:

But since we know of a cause — intelligence — that can adapt a similar solution in multiple ways, that is a cause that a rational scientist should pursue.

The message is clear: Foolish scientists! Abandon your magic and your alchemy and your evolution. Embrace the Discoveroids’ time-tested scientific doctrine of intelligent design.

How long can the Discoveroids keep this new theme going? Who knows? As long as their generous patrons keep the cash flowing, they’ll persevere. They know they won’t impress us, and they’ve probably given up winning in court, but that doesn’t matter. They’ll stay with it as long as they can.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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The Kentucky Governor’s Race & Ken Ham’s Ark

Once again, we write about the Ark Encounter project, a theme park under construction in northern Kentucky, promoted by Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, famed for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

You know that Hambo’s outfit is currently embroiled in litigation with the State of Kentucky over AIG’s application to receive millions in sales tax rebates. The last time we wrote about it was Ken Ham’s Litigation: Americans United Joins In. We don’t have any news about the lawsuit — at least not about what’s going on in the courtroom. Instead, this is about the effect of that mess in Kentucky generally.

Our usual news sweeps didn’t pick this up, but we were told about it by one of our clandestine operatives. It comes from the Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky (not far from ol’ Hambo’s Creation Museum). Their headline is: Ky gubernatorial candidates on the issues An icon below the headline will take you to the newspaper’s comments feature. Only a few excerpts from the news story are of interest to us. We added some bold font for emphasis:

Here are the views of the six candidates for Kentucky governor on a range of issues. The questions were emailed to them this week.

The issues that were put to the candidates involve tax reform, pensions, the cost of higher education, health care, gambling, a statewide smoking ban in workplaces and indoor public places, jobs and the minimum wage, climate change, and — of all things — ol’ Hambo’s Ark Park.

On taxes, the Republicans want them lower; the Democrats don’t. On health care, the Democrats favor “Obamacare” and the Republicans don’t. On climate change, one Republican (Comer) doesn’t believe in it. The other two who responded (Heiner and Scott) say it may be happening, but they don’t want the state’s coal industry shut down. Only two Democrats responded. One (Conway) says it’s happening, but he still wants to protect the coal industry. The other (Young) says “polluters should pay.” Those are unremarkable responses, pretty much in line with what one would expect these days.

Okay, now for the topic of interest around here — ol’ Hambo’s ark project, and the millions in sales tax rebates that he’s suing to get. Although the matter is in court, and it involves purely Constitutional questions about the role of the state in paying money to religious organizations, this is somehow an issue in the Governor’s race. Here’s the question that was sent to all of them:

Do you favor or oppose extending $18 million in state tax rebates to the Ark Encounter project in Grant County, which has acknowledged it plans to limit its hiring to Christians? Why or why not?

This is what the candidates say, Republicans first:

Bevin: I favor the extension of these rebates, because to do otherwise is discriminatory and flies in the face of protected 1st Amendment rights. Last time I checked, Christians’ jobs and money are just as critical in supporting our economy as any other dollars.

Comer: I favor extending these tax rebates. This should be viewed like any other economic development project by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. It will bring hundreds of jobs to Kentucky.

Heiner: Favor. I support an even playing field for Kentucky Tourism Development Program dollars. Assuming that the Ark Encounter’s religious preference in hiring is within legal bounds, it should receive fair and just treatment under the program guidelines.

Scott: I favor the existing agreement for performance-based tax rebates for this project and expect that anyone who would want to work there would probably be a Christian.

They’re all theocrats, and therefore they don’t care about the Constitution of the US or of Kentucky. Now the Democrats:

Conway: I support the right of individuals to live by their religious beliefs, but we’re a better state and country for not discriminating in employment.

Young: Oppose. They demand the “right” to practice religious discrimination in their hiring practices. While they might legally be allowed to do that — if they’re actually some kind of church, for example — the state is under no legal or ethical obligation to subsidize their business.

So there you are. That’s our two-party system in action. We have previously expressed our dismay at the current state of affairs — see Creationism or Socialism: Which is Dumber? But before you read it, be warned — our Curmudgeonly views will upset most of you. Being a Curmudgeon, we’ve learned to accept it.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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