Category Archives: Intelligent Design

Casey Won’t Admit That The Designer Is Yahweh

The Discovery Institute continues to insist that they’re a science outfit, in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary — starting with their own Wedge strategy. You can read the actual document at the NCSE website: The Wedge Document. It forthrightly declares:

Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. … Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature.

Here’s a scan of the original: The Wedge. It’s a pdf document which begins with a graphic of Michelangelo’s God creating Adam. We discussed the whole thing in What is the “Wedge Document”?

Aside from that, they’ve all but admitted that their magic designer is Yahweh — see Casey Admits the Designer Is the First Cause. Before that they had already emerged out of their closet, pranced around wearing ecclesiastical garb, and confessed that their “scientific” designer — blessed be he! — is transcendent. That means their designer exists beyond time and space, in that inaccessible and incomprehensible realm known only to the gods. Jeepers — who could it be?

Although the Discoveroids continue to insist that their “theory” of intelligent is scientific, no one who knows anything about science agrees with them (except for a few oddballs), and despite the Discoveroids’ endless denials — which are entirely for the purpose of slipping their dogma into the public schools — no one doubts the divinity of their imaginary designer. Yet they continue their shabby charade.

The latest from Casey Luskin — our favorite creationist — is Why Doesn’t Intelligent Design Identify the Designer? We all know the answer. If they did announce that their designer is Yahweh, they’d be in the same boat (or Ark) as ol’ Hambo, and their misnamed Academic Freedom bills would never even be considered anywhere.

Okay, you know what’s coming — an ark-load of disinformation. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us. Casey says:

A friendly scientist contacted me recently with a question about intelligent design and specifically the identity of the designer. He believed that the ID movement has “adopted a policy of carefully avoiding explicit identification of the source of ID as the God of the Bible, or any other specific deity” and that this policy “follows from the cultural state of affairs which tolerates nothing having to do with biblical religion.” He was concerned that our approach was simply a legal or political strategy, rather than one driven by the search for truth.

The “friendly scientist” is absolutely correct. But you know Casey is going to deny it. That’s his job. Here it comes:

I replied, respectfully, that his description does not accurately reflect the thinking of the ID movement. Yes, he is correct that ID does not identify the designer. But this refusal is principled, not some kind of rhetorical or legal “strategy” or politically motivated “policy.” It stems from a desire to take a scientific approach and respect the limits of scientific inquiry, rather than inject religious discussions about theological questions into science.

Does anyone believe that? Anyone? No? Well, maybe Casey will convince you. Let’s read on:

Because ID sticks to scientifically tractable questions, it stays silent on such matters. This is a crucial point to appreciate if you want to understand why ID doesn’t identify the designer: it’s not because ID takes a scientific approach and science arbitrarily avoids such questions; it’s because ID takes a scientific approach and science has no means of addressing such questions.

He lost us when he said that that they take a scientific approach. Anyway, we’ll continue:

[T]he empirical data — such as the information-rich, integrated complexity of the flagellar machine — may indicate that the flagellum arose by intelligent design. But that same empirical data does not inform us whether the intelligence that designed the flagellum was Yahweh, Allah, Buddha, Yoda, or some other source of intelligent agency. There is no known way to use such empirical data to determine the nature or identity of the designer, and since ID is based solely upon empirical data, the scientific theory of ID must remain silent on such questions.

So they remain silent. Nevertheless, every drooling idiot who encounters Discoveroid propaganda immediately knows what they’re saying. Here’s more:

The point of all this is that ID’s non-identification of the designer isn’t a “policy” or a “strategy,” but rather it’s something that just flows out of ID’s choice to take a scientific approach, rather than a theological one.

That’s enough. Okay, you’ve seen what Casey has to say. Now we’ll ask again: Does anyone believe him?

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

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Ken Ham Believes Babylonian Science

It is generally agreed that early versions of Genesis were first committed to writing during the period known as the Babylonian captivity, starting in approximately 600 BC. The degree to which the Hebrews appropriated the views of their more advanced conquerors isn’t known — except that the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh existed in 2100 BC (written versions have been found from a few centuries later), and it undoubtedly served as inspiration for the tale of Noah and the Flood. Some have even suggested that it influenced the tale of the Garden of Eden.

Young Earth creationists insist that what they call creation science — based on Genesis — must be true, and all modern science to the contrary is not only blasphemous, but it’s based on false assumptions — i.e., verifiable observations and testable hypotheses. Given the Babylonian influence on Genesis, one might be curious about Babylonian science. Go ahead, search for it. Wikipedia has no entry for that topic, which isn’t surprising — there was nothing we’d recognize as science in those days. What we call science is quite new — it began with people like Galileo and Newton, and it incorporates the logic of Aristotle — of which the Babylonians knew nothing.

Nevertheless, the Babylonians weren’t idiots. Like other cultures of their time, they had some technology, such as agriculture and metallurgy, and they built cities. They had a calendar. Astronomy was primitive, as with all cultures before the invention of the telescope. Being limited to naked eye observations of the heavens, they believed The Earth Does Not Move. And being limited in geographic knowledge by their primitive transportation methods, it’s understandable that they thought The Earth Is Flat. Those beliefs found their way into several scripture passages, which we cited in those two links.

Although young Earth creationists have abandoned the idea of a flat Earth, despite its unambiguous biblical support, and most seem to have accepted the idea that the Earth moves as part of the solar system, they still insist on the truth of everything else in Genesis. Why?

The creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — posted this a few days ago: Biblical Authority and the Book of Genesis. It was written by ol’ Hambo himself, so you you know it’s authoritative. You’ve heard all this before, so we’ll give you only a few excerpts, with bold font added by us:

If you can’t trust the Bible when it talks about geology, biology, and astronomy, then how can you trust the Bible when it talks about morality and salvation? The issues of morality and salvation are dependent upon the history in the Bible being true. God does not separate morality and salvation from geology, biology, and astronomy. However, it’s popular today for liberal scholars to claim that the Bible doesn’t speak about science.

But if Hambo is so devoted to what the bible says, then why doesn’t he believe the Earth is flat? He’s never explained that. He does, however, think it’s the center of the universe — see The Center of the Universe, where AIG says:

Present astronomical knowledge recognizes no singular geometrical point in our universe — in accordance with evolutionary ideas. Consequently, there is no geometrical center and also no defined edge. No place in the universe has a special position.

[…]

However, the earth occupies the central position in the entire universe because of its God-given role, even though it may not be in the geometrical center. The first astronomical object that God created was the earth; this clearly indicates its importance amongst all of the other stars and planets. God’s attention focuses on this planet …. . The clearest indication of the earth’s central position is that God’s own Son was sent here.

You might think that if they can wiggle around like that — and completely ignore the numerous biblical declarations that the Earth is flat — they ought to be able to accommodate the rest of science. But you’d be wrong. Back to Hambo’s essay:

You see, the Bible teaches about geology. It states that there was a global Flood. The Bible also teaches about biology. God made distinct kinds of animals and plants. The Bible deals with astronomy. God make the sun, moon, and stars on Day Four for signs and for seasons. Now the Bible doesn’t deal with chemical equations or the laws of physics that helped put man on the moon, but the Bible does give the big picture in geology, biology, and other sciences, to enable people to have the right way of thinking about the universe.

Uh huh, the big picture. Let’s read on:

The history in Genesis 1–11 is foundational to the rest of the Bible. Incidentally, liberal teachers understand the best way to get rid of the Bible. First, get rid of the history (the geology and so on), because once the history’s gone, it’s then just some pie-in-the-sky religion, divorced from its foundation, and ultimately it will collapse. The Bible has been disconnected from the real world and relegated to just a collection of stories. No wonder people are leaving the Church.

The essay is far too long. Here’s one last excerpt:

Friends, we need to contend for the faith. There is a spiritual battle in this world, and it’s about time Christians were willing to stand up for what we believe, be bold, and deal with these issues. The creation movement is part of a movement that God has started to get people back to the foundation of His Word, beginning with Genesis.

So there you are. Hambo — on behalf of God — is engaged in a spiritual battle. The really tragic part is that he’s battling for Babylonian science — which doesn’t exist. But that’s where he wants to take his stand.

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

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David McConaghie Trial Begins

Creationist voyeurism

Creationist voyeurism

At last we have some news about David McConaghie, the creationist preacher and Northern Ireland political operative who was arrested in connection with the discovery of a hidden camera found in the loo of Democratic Unionist Party member David Simpson’s constituency office. The trial has been delayed twice before.

We’ve been eagerly following this case because we think it provides a unique insight into the minds of creationists, illustrating the connection between moral depravity and the intellectual aberration of creationism. Our last post about it was David McConaghie Update — 11 March 2015. At that time McConaghie was out on bail and the trial was supposed to start in two weeks. But there’s been no news since then — until now.

BBC reports Former DUP adviser David McConaghie denies voyeurism. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

A former church minister and adviser to DUP MP David Simpson allegedly secretly filmed female colleagues using the toilet in the constituency office, a court has heard. David McConaghie, from Cottage Hill, Dollingstown, denies making recordings for his sexual gratification. He appeared before Craigavon Magistrates Court on Monday.

Presumably that means today. Then they tell us:

A woman who worked with him said she had been uneasy about him for some time leading up to September 2012. She told the court he had begun to hang his coat in the ladies’ toilet with his camera phone poking out of the breast pocket. She challenged him and the coat was removed.

Is that suspicious behavior? We don’t know the social customs in Northern Ireland. Maybe it’s not uncommon for gents to hang their coats in the ladies’ room. Let’s read on:

However, she said that a short time later, he suggested buying potpourri for the toilet and provided two filled boxes.

We don’t know what that means, but let’s keep going:

She said she continually pushed one of the boxes into a corner, only to repeatedly find it pushed back to a position nearer the toilet. Eventually, she looked among the potpourri and found a small camera, she said.

Egad! The BBC story continues:

When she examined some of the footage from this, she saw images of herself using the bathroom and shots of Mr McConaghie in which she said he appeared to be setting up the camera. She told David Simpson, MP, who called the police. He also gave evidence on Monday.

Things don’t look good for McConaghie. But we haven’t heard his side of the case. Here’s the last of the news story:

Mr McConaghie’s defence will be heard at the end of July.

This thing is taking forever! But at least it has begun. Until we know the conclusion of this judicial adventure, all we can do is repeat our usual advice: Avoid using the bathrooms in any creationist location — that includes creationist politicians, creationist “think tanks,” creation museums and theme parks, and the church buildings of creationist denominations.

Addendum: The Belfast Telegraph, which has the largest circulation of any newspaper in Northern Ireland, has this headline: Ex-DUP aide David McConaghie denies ‘toilet cam’ voyeurism charge. Their story has more details of the testimony. Here are a couple of excerpts about the “potpourri” — whatever that is:

[T]he woman said McConaghie had suggested some potpourri for the toilet and one Monday morning he arrived with some in a square pot which was placed in the toilet. Later another pot arrived and was also put in the toilet. One pot was round and the other square but both had holes in their sides. The second pot was placed six inches from the corner directly facing the toilet. The other one was behind the door but when the door was closed the pot also faced the toilet.

[…]

At lunch time on September 12, 2012, she asked her co-worker if she had been moving the pot but she said no, adding that she then told her what she had been doing for a number of weeks. The witness added that they agreed to bring some potpourri back to the office, empty the pots and replace what was in them. She said they went back to work and brought the pots down to the main office. When they were emptying the pots a device fell out. When she pushed a button a red light was illuminated. She explained that they re-filled the pots and brought them back up to the toilet passing the defendant’s office. He was on the phone and then said ‘I have to go’.

That’s enough. You can read the rest for yourselves.

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

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Discoveroids: Misinformation about Information

You know about the Discovery Institute’s claim that the universe is comprised of some kind of supernatural pixie-dust they call “information,” about which we wrote Phlogiston, Vitalism, and Information.

Despite the intentional similarity in terminology, the magical phenomenon the Discoveroids call information has nothing to do with information theory, which Wikipedia says is “considered to have been founded in 1948 by Claude Shannon.” No one can detect Discoveroid information with the instruments of science, yet they claim they can somehow sense its presence by using William Dembski’s Design Inference, commonly called his Design Filter. We wrote about it here: The Discoveroids and Their Magic Filter.

As the Discoveroid dogma has evolved, it appears that the principal function of their intelligent designer — blessed be he! — is to make things complicated. To do that he adds the mystical ingredient of information. They say it’s not matter, not energy, not anything you know. It’s information! And it’s a big deal. It permeates the entire universe. It’s in your DNA. And only the Discoveroids can detect its presence.

But they’ve just received — or misappropriated — a big gift, thanks to some unfortunate language in a paper published in PLOS Biology, a peer-reviewd journal. The article is sensibly titled: An Estimate of the Total DNA in the Biosphere. You can read it online without a subscription. The abstract says:

Modern whole-organism genome analysis, in combination with biomass estimates, allows us to estimate a lower bound on the total information content in the biosphere: 5.3 × 1031 (±3.6 × 1031) megabases (Mb) of DNA. Given conservative estimates regarding DNA transcription rates, this information content suggests biosphere processing speeds exceeding yottaNOPS values (1024 Nucleotide Operations Per Second). Although prokaryotes evolved at least 3 billion years before plants and animals, we find that the information content of prokaryotes is similar to plants and animals at the present day. This information-based approach offers a new way to quantify anthropogenic and natural processes in the biosphere and its information diversity over time.

Note that they refer to “anthropogenic and natural processes.” That seems to refer to both man-caused and naturally occurring complexity. We’ll get back to that in a moment.

The Discoveroids have seized upon the paper’s use of the word “information” to claim that it’s about their designer’s magic pixie-dust. This new article appears at their creationist blog, without a byline: Earth’s Biosphere Is Awash in Information. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Visualize an exoplanet far away: dynamic, comfortable, yet lifeless. It has water, plate tectonics, volcanoes, an atmosphere and all the ingredients for life — but no life. What would be the primary factor distinguishing it from Earth? A new paper in PLOS Biology suggests that its chief drawback, all things being equal, would be a lack of complex specified information.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! No, the paper doesn’t “suggest” anything about what the Discoveroids call specified complexity. Wikipedia says:

Specified complexity is what Dembski terms an “explanatory filter” which can recognize design by detecting “complex specified information” (CSI).

Let’s read on in the Discoveroid blog post:

As a side note, they never explain their odd distinction between “natural” and “anthropomorphic” (are humans not natural?). Their last sentence just says, “This approach may help us understand the changing complexity of the biosphere over time and to predict in new ways, both anthropogenic and natural, future changes in the biosphere.” Apparently even typical astrobiologists have an intuitive sense of human exceptionalism.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! No, as we read it, the paper implies that other than human-caused complexity, all the rest occurs naturally — i.e., without our intervention. The Discoveroids then proceed to weave their own dogma into the published paper’s statements, but their efforts are so contrived and tortured that we’re going to skip most of it. Here’s another excerpt:

The rest of the paper discusses how the researchers arrived at their numbers and how the values might have varied over time. (They estimated that the information content in prokaryotes, the simplest organisms, is similar to that of higher organisms — within two orders of magnitude, which they found surprising.) They also include caveats about assumptions and uncertainties in their measurements and offer suggestions for answering future questions. The whole paper is very interesting.

It’s particularly interesting because the paper is talking about something real and identifiable. It says: “In calculating the total amount of DNA, we are assuming that every base pair is a unique piece of information.” That’s totally unlike the Discoveroids’ pixie-dust information which they’ve never even attempted to quantify, or meaningfully define. They continue:

But the damage is done. Even if their estimates need to be revised by a terabase or two some day, they have made it clear that our biosphere is awash in information.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Yes, the biosphere is “awash in information” (DNA base pairs) but that’s not the Discoveroids’ magical version of information. Here’s one final excerpt:

Though clearly evolutionists, they have presented a significant challenge to scientific materialism to account for all this processing power. Simultaneously, they demonstrate the fruitfulness of an information-based approach to the investigation of life.

So there you are. A published paper that merely estimates the amount of information contained in the world’s DNA has been transformed by the Discoveroids into confirmation of their own kind of magic information, which is created only by their supernatural designer. In the future, they’ll probably include the PLOS Biology paper in their listing of peer-reviewed papers that support their “theory” of intelligent design.

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

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