Category Archives: Intelligent Design

Creationist Wisdom #610: A Bold Challenge

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Quad-City Times of Davenport, Iowa. It’s titled Put evolution theory up for debate. The newspaper has a comments feature, and so far the letter hasn’t been doing very well.

We don’t like to embarrass people (unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures), but we have an exceptional situation here. The letter-writer is Steve Brouard, described at the end as having some association with the Quad-City Creation Science Association. We’ll give you a few excerpts from his letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

Sid Machalek’s Aug. 16 letter mentions two court cases to justify the rejection of intelligent design for public schools.

He’s probably talking about this: Keep science in schools; creatonism [sic] in church. The two court cases it mentions are Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, and also McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education — a 1981 case challenging a “balanced treatment” law which mandated that creationism should be taught in public schools along with evolution.

It’s not surprising that creationists are furious whenever the courts apply the Constitution to preserve the separation of church and state, because creationists don’t like the Constitution. They prefer theocracy, so that Oogity Boogity is the law of the land, and it must be taught in schools. Okay, we know what has upset today’s letter-writer. This is what he says about it:

First, why does a scientific theory hide behind judges and the threats of lawsuits to justify itself? Free and open debate is what advances science and learning, by discussing the meaning of available evidence.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! There is so much wrong with that paragraph. First, science isn’t “hiding behind judges and the threats of lawsuits.” It’s perfectly capable of standing on its own, based on the evidence. It’s creationists who are trying to legislate their nonsense into places where it doesn’t belong. And of course, “free and open debate” is what science is all about — but because creationists have no evidence, there’s no reason to waste time in science class with their nonsense.

That was Steve Brouard’s first point. Let’s read on:

Second, the idea of a creator is not detrimental to science, but has been a benefit throughout history. Consider the following disciplines of science founded by creationists: Physics – Isaac Newton; Biology – John Ray; Microbiology – Louis Pasteur; Chemistry – Robert Boyle; Genetics – Gregor Mendel; etc.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! There is nothing — absolutely nothing — about Genesis or creationism in the scientific work of those men. Yes, they were religious, but their belief in the supernatural was irrelevant to their science. That was Steve Brouard’s second point. His letter continues:

Third, I agree science should be taught in science class. But, we should leave out falsehoods, including Haeckel’s fake embryonic drawings; Vestigial organs and junk DNA, now known to be active and useful; the debunked 98.8 percent similarity of chimp and human DNA, based on small fragments of DNA; and homology which is circular reasoning.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We’ve discussed all of those clunkers before — except “homology which is circular reasoning.” Wikipedia says that Homology refers to “the existence of shared ancestry between a pair of structures, or genes, in different species. … Evolutionary theory explains the existence of homologous structures adapted to different purposes as the result of descent with modification from a common ancestor.” Where’s the circular reasoning? Is it less circular to declare that such similarities are caused by an imaginary common designer?

That was Steve Brouard’s third point. Here’s more from the creationist letter-writer:

Fourth, evolution is a basis for theology – the religion of atheism. By faith, atheists believe the first cell popped into existence by itself and a jellyfish-like creature morphed into a T-Rex. There is no science for these beliefs – only speculation.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! But of course, there’s lots of scientific evidence for the doctrine that life and all of its genetically-linked variations were magically poofed into existence during Genesis week.

The creationist’s final point is in the last paragraph of his letter:

Fifth, as a defender of faith in evolution, how about a public debate? Enlist a professor from a local college to help. Eric Hovind will be in the Quad-Cities on Nov. 22-23. We formally challenge you to a public evolution/ID debate. Contact us at [phone number].

Oooooooooooooh — a challenge! Is anyone brave enough — or foolish enough — to step into the lion’s den? Probably not. So the Quad-City Creation Science Association will declare victory. And rightly so!

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

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Creationist Wisdom #609: The Mummy Again

Today’s second letter-to-the-editor appears in the Arizona City Independent, a bi-weekly published by Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Inc. of Casa Grande, Arizona. The title is Our Marvelous Universe. The newspaper has a comments feature.

We don’t like to embarrass people (unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures), but we’ll do it in this case. The letter-writer is
Pastor Jim Mumme of the Evangelical Methodist Church located in Arizona City, Arizona.

That’s a familiar name to our regular readers. We’ve written twice before about letters from that same preacher to that same newspaper. The first was #418: Arizona Preacher. Then we wrote #431: The Mummy Returns. Now he’s back again. We’ll give you a few excerpts from his latest letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

After starting with a scripture passage — always a good beginning! — the rev says:

The science magazines that I read regularly have interesting articles about black holes, dark matter, string theory, mysterious radiation sources, intellectual guesses about what is being observed (not always seen, but recorded electronically), and interpretations such as, “The universe is about 14 billion years old.”

The rev has impressed us with his efforts to absorb up-to-date information. Then he tells us:

The Hubbell [sic] Telescope that orbits the earth, and that has a clear view into deep space that is not hindered by pollution and moisture in our atmosphere, exists partly to get a longer view into space, and maybe find the boundary of the theoretical Big Bang that many scientists believe was the beginning of our present universe. If there was a Big Bang, then there should be an outer limit to it, or boundary. They haven’t found it yet, but many scientists persist in their faith that it has to exist.

Yes, the Hubble Space Telescope has been a failure. It hasn’t located the Great Boundary of the universe. Then the rev gives us the competing theory:

The biblical view of the universe is that a Supreme Intelligence (God) created a fully functioning, mature universe in the short interval of six 24-hour days. In other words, that the objects in space began their existence simultaneously, already growing, receding, radiating, appearing, disappearing, etc. The celestial objects began their existence thousands of light years away from us and from each other. They didn’t originate in a tiny spot of condensed matter that exploded thousands, maybe millions, maybe billions, of light years ago to account for their present locations in space.

That sounds good — as long as he doesn’t worry about how those distant stars were visible on Earth during Genesis week. Let’s read on:

The biblical view of living beings is that fully functioning mature (adult) humans, animals, insects, birds, fish, plants, etc. were created, and that life didn’t originate from non-life. No scientist has ever succeeded in creating life from non-life in laboratories, though many have tried, and none have observed it happening in nature.

Science fails again! The rev continues:

It is easy to see that either theory of the origin of the universe requires a great deal of faith.

Well, yeah! Science is all about faith. Here’s more:

The obvious existence of order and design in the universe supports the existence of an intelligent Creator for those who have faith in Him. For those who have a distaste for recognizing an authority greater than themselves, the search for contrary evidence must go on.

Right, that’s what drives those foolish scientists. Moving along:

So far, this search has proven to be very disappointing, although believers like Carl Sagan hang on to every new thread of hope through new discoveries in space.

Sagan is still hanging on? The rev’s letter began by mentioning all the science magazines he reads, but it seems that he has fallen a bit behind. Carl Sagan died in 1996.

The last paragraph is a bunch of bible stuff, so this is a good point at which to leave the rev’s letter. We can’t wait for the next one.

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

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Creationist Wisdom #608: Core Element Missing

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of St Louis, Missouri. It’s titled Evolutionary theory lacks a core element of science. The newspaper has a comments feature.

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 preacher — Brian Harrison. He’s a big deal, because Wikipedia has a write-up on him, which says: “Harrison is also one of the few young earth creationists among Catholics.” Excerpts from the rev’s letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

The coverage of science in Saturday’s edition is rather ironic. First, religion columnist Greg Weeks tells us to believe modern science when it “says we’ve evolved over millions of years” (“Christians can and should appreciate science”).

Here’s that column: FAITH AND SCIENCE: A Required Partnership. Then rev Harrison says:

On the editorial page, “Reproductive wrongs” begins by affirming, correctly, “It is a core element of science that any finding must be reproducible if it is to be valid. Someone must be able to do the same experiment and get the same results.”

We can’t find that editorial, but it doesn’t matter. Now the stage is set for rest of the rev’s letter, in which he tells us:

Well, since evolutionary theory plainly lacks that core element, it is not science. The supposed development of all different phyla (macroevolution) from a hypothetical original cell cannot be observed, much less experimentally reproduced.

[*Groan*] How often has it been pointed out that we don’t need to re-create the Earth’s biosphere in order to have confidence in the theory of evolution? Events in the past — whether astronomical, geological, or biological — can be reliably determined without literally reproducing them. We know what caused the meteor crater in Arizona. We know how the Hawaiian Islands formed. And we know a great deal about evolution — see The Lessons of Tiktaalik. But the rev thinks we know nothing. He declares:

One of evolution’s own core elements is the highly debatable philosophical assumption that all observable phenomena are to be explained by natural causes alone, i.e., excluding any appeal to divine intervention or revelation.

The rev is mistaken here too. That’s not a philosophical assumption of science. Rather, it’s an operational constraint, because science can’t observe or test supernatural phenomena — see Bring Me An Angel Detector! Having demonstrated that he knows nothing about the subject he’s discussing, the rev concludes his letter with this:

Rev. Weeks [who wrote the earlier column] says he “believe[s] in the goodness of creation” as well as in evolution. But how does he reconcile the two? His evolutionary scenario makes a supposedly loving God the author of great suffering (terror, bloodshed and painful disease) on the part of innocent animals for millions of years prior to the curse on the earth which, according to revelation (Genesis 3), followed Satan’s invasion of this planet and the consequent fall from grace of its first human custodians.

Does that myth excuse God for all the evil in the world? No, but evolution does. The rev should pay some attention to another Catholic theologian — Francisco Ayala — who explained it all beautifully. We wrote about it in Charles Darwin, Francisco Ayala, and the Problem of Evil.

So where does that leave us? The rev says there’s a core element missing. We agree. What’s missing is the rev’s understanding of science.

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

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Creationist Wisdom #607: Former Darwinist

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Roanoke Star, a bi-weekly newspaper from Roanoke, Virginia. Technically, what we found isn’t a letter-to-the editor. It’s a column, but we’ll treat it as a letter. It’s titled Reflections of A Former Darwinist. The newspaper has a comments feature.

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 it’s a little bit different. The writer is Dennis Garvin, who describes himself in his first paragraph:

I am a reasonably educated man. Valedictorian of my college class, honors graduate of medical school, product of a surgical subspecialty training program ranked in the top two in the nation.

We Googled around, and it looks like he’s a urologist. That’s enough for full-name treatment. Excerpts from the column will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

I was an intellectual, scientific, Darwinist atheist. Yet it was a deficit in the Darwin doctrine that drove me to question my atheism and, ultimately, to my belief in a Creator.

How intriguing! What was the deficit in the “Darwin doctrine” that changed Dennis’ mind? He tells us:

In my mid thirties, I was vexed by a question that, to many, might seem small. But it drove me crazy. Altruism. It existed. I had seen proof of its existence. Yet, it was completely counterintuitive to a Darwinist. Why would a man endanger himself to rescue a child he does not know? He is risking sacrificing himself (thereby denying the gene pool the benefit of his input) for a human creature with unknown genetic potential.

What a brilliant insight! According to Darwin, when a child not your own is imperiled, the sight should elicit laughter, or at least a shrug. No one should do anything to help anyone except his own offspring. Why didn’t this ever occur to us before? Let’s read on:

This is what set me off. By contrast, I had to conclude that, while altruism was nonsense in Darwinian terms, it was exactly consistent with the major religions of the world. So, with as open a mind as is possible in a smug atheist, I investigated my previous bias against religion and, effectively, a Creator.

Isn’t this exciting? What did Dennis learn from his investigation? We continue:

I learned that you can scientifically support Deism or atheism only if you allow yourself to be mired in the Newtonian concept of universal laws. The six days of Genesis’ creation is easily explained by Einstein’s theory of time dilation and the application of the Common Background Radiation left over from the Big Bang. It shows how the 15 billion years of the universe and the 6 days of Genesis are in perfect, even frighteningly precise, accord.

Whoa! How fast would the Earth need to be moving, relative to the rest of the universe, so that its inhabitants would experience 15 billion years in only six days? It’s a straightforward calculation. But our calculator can’t handle 365 days times 15 billion years, so we don’t have a good figure for the amount of time dilation. If we had that figure, we could plug it into a routine that will tell us out how fast Earth had to be moving. Anyway, it’s gotta be more than 99% of the speed of light. Maybe 99.9%, or even faster. Here’s more from Dennis:

Even the mystery of the Trinity has scientific logic if you apply slit lamp experiments, quantum mechanics and specifically the idea of phase entanglement. None of these generally accepted advances in science and physics proves the God of the Bible. But they do make it hard, indeed impossible, to scientifically reject Him. This still leaves you free to be an atheist; even God gives you that prerogative. Just don’t claim that modern science backs you up. It makes you look like a fool, just like I was.

We’re only about halfway through, but we’ve given you the good stuff. Go ahead, click over there to read it all. It will forever change you.

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

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