Category Archives: Intelligent Design

What Is Klinghoffer Saying?

Things are really degenerating at the Discovery Institute. It’s difficult to believe, but it now appears that it was Casey who was keeping things on track, and it’s all falling apart without him. This just popped up at their creationist blog: The Curious Incident of the Non-Rafting Foxes.

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. We’ll give you a few excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis.

Blink and you might miss this unexpected bit of common sense, embedded in a NY Times article on adorable dwarf foxes native to California’s Channel Islands (Foxes That Endure Despite a Lack of Genetic Diversity). How did they get there? They were evidently ferried thousands of years ago by Native Americans, who seemed to regard them as totem animals.

Not much of a mystery. Primitive people migrate with their animals. The Polynesians traveled to islands across the Pacific and took their chickens with them. Even Klinghoffer seems to agree. He says:

Fine. Because otherwise how else could a fox make the passage? Just imagine: foxes rafting across 12 miles of ocean on their own, never mind 70 miles — perhaps hitching a ride on a tree trunk or other matted vegetation torn from the ground in a violent storm. It’s like something out of a kids’ cartoon. That indeed sounds pretty “unlikely.” Actually, “absurd” is more like it.

Why is Klinghoffer so captivated by this story? Let’s read on:

Now would you believe unaided animals journeying across ocean waters not for 12 or 70 but hundred of miles [sic]? Because the journal Nature tells us monkeys did it.

He’s talking about some new reports of something we saw a week ago at PhysOrg: Paleontologists find first fossil monkey in North America — but how did it get here? PhysOrg says:

Seven tiny teeth tell the story of an ancient monkey that made a 100-mile ocean crossing between North and South America into modern-day Panama – the first fossil evidence for the existence of monkeys in North America.

The find provides the oldest fossil evidence for the interchange of mammals between South and North America and challenges long-held views of South America as an island continent that evolved in isolation before the Isthmus of Panama was formed and animals began crossing between the continents about 3.5 million years ago, said Jonathan Bloch, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida campus. Study findings are detailed online today in the journal Nature.

This is the article in Nature: First North American fossil monkey and early Miocene tropical biotic interchange.

Anyway, there’s some speculation about how the monkeys traveled by water from South America to North America, a distance of 100 miles or more, before the isthmus of Panama was formed. For some reason, Klinghoffer regards this as a virtually unsolvable mystery. He quotes someone who said: “the idea of monkeys rafting around unintentionally on beds of vegetation isn’t as crazy as it sounds.” Then Klinghoffer declares:

No? It’s not allowed to be “crazy” because after all, how did the monkeys get to South America to begin with? Against our will, because it’s against common sense, we’re once again forced to say by rafting … . Ah yes, the theory of animal rafting by uprooted tree and violent storm. The distribution of animals across the globe is often brandished by Darwinists as evidence for common descent.

Where is Klinghoffer going with this? What’s his alternative explanation? Is he arguing for special creation on the separate continents? He quotes from an old article by Casey — that venerable source — claiming that biogeography “in fact poses one of the toughest challenges for evolutionary theory.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Darwin regarded Biogeography as some of the strongest evidence for his theory. Two entire chapters in Origin of Species are devoted to the subject. Klinghoffer continues:

To borrow a famous image from Sherlock Holmes, the instance with the Channel Island foxes is a case of the dog that didn’t bark in the night.

Your Curmudgeon often refers to that Holmes story — Silver Blaze — but we do so when some important evidence is obviously missing. The last time we used it was Why No News about Ark Ticket Sales?. But what obvious evidence are those infernal “Darwinists” holding back in the case of the rafting monkeys? This is how Klinghoffer justifies his invocation of the Sherlock Holmes analysis technique:

The foxes didn’t raft [from 12 to 70 miles], because, under evolutionary theory, they didn’t need to. Monkeys did raft, even across a whole wide ocean [about 100 miles], because evolution required it. On other hand, if the theory needed foxes to do so, you can be sure they would obediently hop aboard. It should be the facts that drive startling conclusions, not the theory that’s supposed to explain the facts. But with evolution the roles of fact and theory are often reversed.

Huh? What’s so wildly inconsistent about the two different situations? Why is Klinghoffer so enraged by the offered explanations? And what’s the missing evidence that the Holmes reference suggests? Here’s the rest of Klinghoffer’s baffling essay, which — at least to him — ties it all together:

Animals do the most striking things, like sailing across oceans on their own, on demand. These are theory-driven “facts,” not a fact-driven theory. The non-rafting foxes are the thing that gives the game away. They are, as Holmes says, the curious incident. Dogs, by the way, like horses and foxes, are not thought to raft. Not yet!

Your Curmudgeon is mystified. We keep looking for the missing piece of the puzzle — the dog that didn’t bark — showing that the Discoveroids’ “theory” of intelligent design supplies the answer to this alleged mystery of biogeography. But we don’t see it. Maybe you can help us out, dear reader.

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

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

Ken Ham’s Ark Will Get State Tax Funds

You know all about the suit filed against Kentucky to obtain state funds for the religious theme park being built by Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. He’s the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, famed not only for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG), but also for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

As we reported in Ken Ham’s Ark Wins First Round in Court, Hambo prevailed over the state’s motion to dismiss his suit, and then — to our surprise — Governor Matt Bevin decided that the state wouldn’t proceed any further. So the case was over and Hambo had his victory.

But there was a bureaucratic matter that needed to be dealt with. Because Hambo’s organization is a religious ministry, he had been fighting the state’s decision not to provide him with tax funds. That administrative decision had to be overturned. And it just happened.

This is the headline in the Lexington Herald-Leader of Lexington, Kentucky, the second-largest city in the state. State awards $18 million tax break to Noah’s Ark theme park. They have a comments feature. Here are some excerpts from the news story, with bold font added by us:

A state agency remade by Gov. Matt Bevin last week has approved $18 million in tax breaks to a Grant County amusement park that will feature a “life-size” Noah’s Ark. The $92 million Ark Encounter project, owned by the same company as the Creation Museum in Petersburg, is scheduled to open July 7.

Bevin “remade” the agency? So it seems, and by an odd coincidence, the bureaucrats are now favorably disposed toward ol’ Hambo. We’re told:

The tax break allows approved tourism sites to recover as much as 25 percent of their investment through a rebate of state sales taxes paid by visitors. The theme park also will receive tax breaks from Grant County and the city of Williamstown. The state also designated $11 million in road funds for an expanded interchange off Interstate 75.

Verily, the blessings of heaven are descending upon ol’ Hambo — at state expense. Let’s read on:

Last week, Bevin reappointed one previous member of the authority board and added four new members.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Thanks, gov! But hey — we know about the court case, but still, is Noah’s Ark the sort of thing government should be supporting? Silly question. In Kentucky, that’s no problem. The Lexington Herald-Leader informs us:

Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, has said previously the project will hire only Christians but won’t discriminate among denominations.

Oh — they will discriminate in hiring, but they won’t be discriminating among denominations. In Kentucky that makes it okay. Here’s one last excerpt:

“It is extremely unfortunate that the state is giving tax incentives to an organization that will discriminate against Kentucky citizens,” said Daniel Phelps, head of the Kentucky Paleontological Society and a longtime critic of the project.

Phelps is obviously one of those evolutionist secularists Hambo’s been telling us about. Well, Hambo showed him who’s running things in Kentucky.

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

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

Discoveroids: No Thinking Without Intelligent Design

Today we have yet another example of the Great Creationist Coalescence (the GCC) of various creationist outfits. The last time we wrote about this was Discoveroids Adopt a Ken Ham Doctrine, and that links to several earlier examples.

This time the Discovery Institute is embracing a modified version of another of Ken Ham’s bizarre notions — that logic is impossible without the bible because “The laws of logic flow from the biblical worldview” — see Creationism and Logic, Part 3.

At the Discoveroids’ creationist blog we find Lawyer, Scientist, or Animal? Choosing Between Evolution and Human Reason. It’s by Sarah Chaffee, a new Discoveroid staffer. We’ve been calling her “Savvy Sarah.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us.

In a post for the NPR [National Public Radio] blog 13.7, UC Berkeley psychologist Tania Lombrozo asks, Is the Mind’s Approach More Like a Scientist or a Trial Lawyer? She praises advances toward greater scientific objectivity, suggesting this holds promise that humans can overcome their natural biases. But the case for scientific objectivity only makes sense in a context where we can trust our reason. And guess what? That’s an assumption more compatible with intelligent design than with an evolutionary framework.

The NPR article doesn’t mention intelligent design, but like all Discoveroids, Savvy Sarah sees evidence for their “theory” everywhere they look. She says:

Lombrozo asks whether we tend to reason like scientists — that is, examine the evidence and draw conclusions based on it — or more like trial lawyers — cherry-picking data to fit our case.

Actually, a good trial lawyer knows how to think, and he recognizes when he has a weak case, but it’s his job to present what little evidence he may have in the best way possible. In that sense, he might behave like an apologist, but he knows what he’s doing and will admit that he does it. Anyway, let’s read on:

Lombrozo places her confidence in science — a human endeavor — to reveal truth about the universe. Is that confidence justified? Well, it depends. Judging from her earlier blogging, Lombrozo seems to be in favor of materialistic evolution, but that same viewpoint undermines our trust in reason, or ought to do so if you’re consistent.

What? Evolution “undermines our trust in reason”? What madness is this? Savvy Sarah quotes a couple of Discoveroids — always a smart thing to do — and then tells us:

Darwinism, in other words, undermines itself as a scientific idea. It asks that we trust the theorizing done by human minds, yet tells us those minds are a step away from irrational animals. How did trustworthy reason “evolve” ex nihilo? Materialists sidestep that conundrum.

Yes, dear reader — if you ignore the scientific method of gathering data, proposing and testing hypotheses, and rejecting demonstrably false ideas, then (and only then) you’re a fool to believe that your monkey brain is capable doing any useful thinking. Savvy Sarah continues:

But if study of the universe reveals evidence of intelligent design, we may have reason to trust our minds after all.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Here’s her conclusion:

Under materialistic evolution, we are neither scientists nor trial lawyers — but animals. Under ID, at least there is the chance of human beings exercising right reason and, on that basis, making real scientific progress.

So there you are, dear reader. The Discoveroids have adopted another of Hambo’s arguments. The Great Creationist Coalescence is continuing.

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

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

Klinghoffer, Neil deGrasse Tyson, & Lisa Randall

Lisa Randall

Lisa Randall

This involves the interplay of a few different websites, so we’ll try to make it coherent. The Hayden Planetarium recently hosted the 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate on the subject “Is the Universe a Simulation?” They have a link to a video of the entire debate, which is two hours long. Neil deGrasse Tyson was the host and moderator, and Lisa Randall was one of the panelists.

Although the topic was a bit esoteric, it attracted some news coverage. For example, the Atlanta Constitution had this headline: Neil deGrasse Tyson believes we could be living in Matrix-like simulation. The newspaper said:

Tyson, who has posited his beliefs about interplanetary life in the past, is open to the simulation possibility and offered a thought experiment. Humans might be the most intelligent life on Earth but the smartest human might only have the brain capacity of a toddler compared to alien life. “That is not a stretch to think about and if that’s the case, it is easy for me to imagine that everything in our lives is just a creation of some other entity for their entertainment,” Tyson said. “The day we learn that it is true. I will be the only one in the room who will say, I’m not surprised.”

A wee bit hypothetical. Nonsensical, really, but fun nevertheless. However, it seems to have upset PZ Myers, who posted We have a term for that, Neil deGrasse Tyson: “Intelligent Design”. PZ said:

Neil deGrasse Tyson led a debate on whether the universe is a simulation. He took the affirmative side. He agrees that there’s no way to prove it one way or the other, but he claims that the probability that we may be part of a simulation “may be very high”. Aargh. Facepalm.


I am disappointed to say that Tyson gives the worst argument in favor of the simulation hypothesis. It’s the idea that of course there could be super-intelligent beings, and of course what super-intelligent beings would do is create us.

Okay, PZ is disappointed. Now the fun begins. At the creationist blog of the Discovery Institute, this just appeared: Neil deGrasse Tyson Says Chances of Intelligently Designed Universe “May Be Very High”. 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. We’ll give you a few excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis.

[O]f course he [Tyson] was referring to the odds that the universe is an artificial computer simulation by advanced aliens. And that, as opposed to picturing an intelligent designer in more traditional terms [hee hee!] or (as ID theorists prefer) simply leaving open the question of identifying the designer, makes the hypothesis compatible with science? It seems so.

The panel discussion wasn’t remotely about intelligent design, yet Klinghoffer is criticizing Tyson for being a sloppy thinker about that subject. Amazing, huh? Let’s read on:

Fellow atheist P.Z. Myers is appalled [quote from PZ/s blog]. But no. While a simulated universe would indeed be intelligently designed, by definition, Myers has not correctly identified an ID argument.

Klinghoffer is frustrated because PZ doesn’t understand the Discoveroids’ “theory” of intelligent design. He attempts to clarify our thinking:

In simplest terms, the case for ID is twofold, negative and positive. First, all known theories of undirected origins fundamentally fail to makes sense of the scientific evidence. [Hee hee!] Second, a theory of directed origins makes good sense of the evidence, conforming to what we already know about the operation of intelligent causes. Therefore as a provisional matter, we’re justified in inferring design as the best explanation, the best available explanation, of what we see.

The Discoveroids don’t like evolution, so they say Oogity Boogity is the next best explanation. Simple, huh? Here’s more from Klinghoffer:

If Tyson had said: Theories of the universe as non-simulated fail while theories of simulation succeed — then that would be reminiscent of arguments for ID. Of course he would need to suggest some ways his idea could be tested.

But Tyson said nothing like that, because he isn’t crazy. And except for the Discoveroids, everyone knows that their “theory” can’t be tested.

At the end, Klinghoffer actually approves of something PZ said, which may be the first time that has ever happened:

P.Z. congratulates Harvard physicist Lisa Randall, another participant in the debate:

[Klinghoffer quotes from PZ’s blog:] Lisa Randall is the voice of reason who says she thinks the question is only interesting if we have a way to test it. You go, Lisa Randall. That’s how a scientist should think, and she finds the whole argument hilarious.

Randall is always worth quoting. Even Klinghoffer appears to agree with her — but for a bizarre reason. He says:

And she’s right. In the context of ID, despite atheist counterclaims, the fact that the design hypothesis is testable is one thing that makes it of intense scientific interest.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We can imagine Klinghoffer at the panel discussion. When it’s over, he climbs out of the audience and creeps close to Lisa to show his approval — but then, when she realizes who it is, she cringes and quickly moves away.

So there you are. A panel discussion where Tyson’s entertaining remarks were blown out of proportion, and now the Discoveroids are trying to use the thing to legitimize their mystical view of the universe. Well, why not? What else have they got?

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

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article