Category Archives: Intelligent Design

Is Evolution a Religion?

You have all seen examples of the creationist claim that atheism (which to them includes evolution) is a religion. We’ve written about it a few times, e.g.: Ken Ham: A Collection of Creationist Clichés, and also Rev. David Rives: Evolution is a Religion.

Now they’ll have even more ammunition for making that silly claim. In the UK’s Daily Mail (of all places) we read Federal prisons agree to recognize humanism as a religion so that inmates can celebrate Darwin Day. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Federal prisoners who identify as humanist can now celebrate Darwin Day and get accommodations typically afforded to those inmates who believe in a deity. The federal Bureau of Prisons agreed in the settlement of a lawsuit to add a section on humanism to its manual on inmate beliefs and practices. Officials in the prison system will also consider requests from humanist inmates for access to study materials, observance of holy days, and time and space for religious activities.

That’s the same case we wrote about last November in Court Rules Atheism Is a Religion?, so it’s not really news. But now that it’s back in the headlines, the creationists will be all over it. You can read the court’s opinion here: American Humanist Association et al v. Bureau of Prisons et al . Okay, let’s return to the Daily Mail:

Inmate Jason Michael Holden and the American Humanist Association filed the lawsuit last year, saying Holden and other humanist prisoners were prohibited from forming a study group at a federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon. The settlement was reached earlier this month, and the association announced the settlement in a news release issued on Monday.

That news release is probably what triggered the press coverage. Let’s read on:

‘There’s not much to talk about in respect to just atheism,’ Holden’s attorney, Monica Miller, said by phone from Washington, D.C. ‘It’s really about what you do believe, and what those worldviews are and what those philosophies are.’ The settlement comes a little more than a year after the U.S. Army added humanist to its list of religious preferences.

The Army too? When your Curmudgeon was an Army reserve officer, long ago, aside from the usual denominations, the only other choice one could indicate was “No preference.” We continue:

It is unknown how many inmates identify as humanist. But giving them the ability to choose that preference, and to have it entered in the federal prison database, will allow the number to be calculated.

Holden has been imprisoned since an armed robbery in Washington state more than a decade ago. He explained in a May 2014 interview with Uptown Radio that not all atheists — such as those who are white supremacists — are humanists. ‘As humanists, we believe in the ability of mankind to transcend their differences and find some common ground, you know, make the world a better place,’ he said.

We’ve never paid attention to Humanism, but we never before heard that it had any connection to Darwin Day. Anyway, it’s nice to learn that a man convicted of armed robbery is interested in making the world a better place. Here’s more:

Under the settlement, Holden can maintain the group as long as there are at least two like-minded prisoners, and the option will be afforded to humanist prisoners elsewhere. Darwin Day is celebrated February 12, the birthdate of Charles Darwin. Those who observe the day use it to highlight science. Miller said the inmates could perhaps watch a video to mark the occasion and have some type of snack.

Why is any of this important? Because the creationists will use it to claim that the courts now recognize humanism (and atheism and evolution) as a religion. They’ll say that if they can’t teach creationism in the public schools, then we shouldn’t be allowed to teach evolution — because like creationism, it’s also a religion. Suddenly, they’ll become advocates of separation of church and state — as long as they can use that concept to attack science.

Yes, it’s crazy. But remember, we’re dealing with creationists, so craziness is to be expected.

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

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Klinghoffer: The Impossible Origin of Life

The latest at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog is certain to demolish your foolish faith in evolution and convert you to intelligent design. It’s For the Origin of Life, on Earth or Elsewhere, “Ingredients and Conditions” Aren’t Enough. 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.

Klinghoffer begins in a beguiling manner with a scenario everyone can understand — cooking a meal. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

You carefully set out the implements and ingredients on the kitchen counter. Two cans of tuna, bag of egg noodles, block of Cheddar cheese, onion, frozen green peas, condensed cream of mushroom soup, can of sliced mushrooms, a cup of potato chips (for the topping).

Yuk — that is a disgusting collection of goop! Where is Klinghoffer going with this? It takes a couple of paragraphs for him to get around to it, but eventually he says:

How long before these items assemble themselves into a tuna casserole? Pour yourself a glass of wine and watch what happens.

Isn’t he clever? What a brilliant analogy! Let’s read on:

Oh, you’re concerned that the stuff has no means of coming together physically? Well, as days pass and you continue to stare intently at your unassembled casserole, perhaps that promised Seattle mega-earthquake comes along and jostles things around.

He wastes another paragraph describing the effect of the earthquake on the stuff assembled in the kitchen. We’ll skip that. Then he says:

Ridiculous? No more so than stories that are a regular feature of science news that expect incomparably greater wonders to follow automatically when the “ingredients” of life, or some of them, appear to be in place — whether on a distant, Earth-like exoplanet or on the early Earth itself.

Finally, he ties this in with some current science news that he wants his readers to dismiss:

NASA reports the discovery of a new world, Kepler-452b some 1,400 light years away, that is seemingly Earth-like in key respects, orbiting in the “habitable zone” around a star like our sun.

We wrote about that here: Update on Extra-Solar Planets. Then he quotes a recent article that describes Kepler-452b, and which dares to say: “That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.”

“Ingredients and conditions” — is that all? Klinghoffer knows it’s not enough. Not nearly enough. Finally, after all that introductory foolishness about tuna casserole and earthquakes, we get to the point he wants to make. Like all Discoveroids — and creationists in general — Klinghoffer hates the idea of alien life. It’s blasphemy! The Earth is a Privileged Planet. Skipping a bunch about oxygen (you can click over there and read it if you like), he then reminds us:

We’ve said many times before that whether on our planet or any other, “ingredients and conditions” fall wildly short of being enough to explain the development of life from non-life, or complex from simple.

Yes, the Discoveroids are always telling us that there can’t be merely a natural explanation. There must be something more — which only their intelligent designer — blessed be he! — can provide. Klinghoffer continues:

It isn’t merely oxygen, but information, that’s needed.

Ooooooooooooh — information! See Phlogiston, Vitalism, and Information. Here’s more:

Identifying the ingredients and lining them up in a working kitchen is different from knowing how they’re supposed to come together. If life has a recipe, we are utterly ignorant of what that might be, otherwise we would have sparked life ourselves in a laboratory by now.

Your casserole is a complex structure, in the sense of being an unlikely assemblage, but it is also specified or functional. (The function is to serve as a tasty and nutritious meal, more so than the unprepared ingredients.) So too with the structures of life, which in addition give evidence of irreducible complexity.

Specified complexity, irreducible complexity! [*Curmudgeon swoons*] This is so persuasive! Klinghoffer finishes his essay with one last, devastating blast at those wicked evolutionists:

If you’re hungry now, do you think it’s only a matter of time before the table can be set and the food served? With these science news items, that is the level of absurdity we’re talking about.

So there you are. Now, in addition to mocking evolution by blurting out Tornado in a junkyard!, you can add: Tuna casserole in an earthquake! And remember to give Klinghoffer the credit.

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

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Creationist Wisdom #598: Nation Under God

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Oroville Mercury-Register of Oroville, California, a town famous for the 1881 lynching of Tom Noacks, who had killed an elderly pioneer, Jack Crum, by stomping him to death. Noacks had been known for punching oxen in the head, like Mongo in Blazing Saddles.

The letter is titled America needs to become a godly nation again. The newspaper has a comments feature, but there aren’t any yet.

Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote her by using her full name. Her first name is Marjorie. Excerpts from her letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

America was found [sic] as a nation under God and grew to be the most blessed and greatest nation ever on the face of the earth.

Is that how America was founded? Not quite — see Is America a “Christian Nation”? Building on her “founded as a nation under God” premise, Marjorie declares:

But now, as we turn away from the God of our forefathers, we are sliding downhill, becoming more and more immoral, losing our standing in the world. With our lack of godly leadership, we owe trillions of dollars to other countries, China and Russia to name two. Many of our families are breaking up.

It’s all because of “our lack of godly leadership.” We found an interesting article at a website with which we’re not familiar that claims there were originally Limitations on Clergy Holding Office. That article, which we haven’t checked, says:

[A] number of early state constitutions prohibited clergy themselves from holding various political offices. Seven of the original thirteen states imposed such restrictions, and six other states that entered the union in the early decades of the nineteenth century also included such restrictions. These restrictions took various forms, but most commonly prohibited clergy from being in the state legislature. Several states went further and prohibited clergy from holding any statewide office.

If that’s true, the people who founded America didn’t agree with Marjorie. But wait — she has even more complaints:

Our schools are teaching evolution as a scientific fact, neglecting to mention all the questions they cannot answer. Noah’s flood answers lots of questions.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Let’s read on:

Many scientists are now seeing intelligent design in creation. For instance, what did it take to make male and female?

Obviously that required a miracle. Marjorie continues:

Believers in Darwin’s theory of evolution make it seem realistic. They don’t mention that the cambrian layer contains only complex animals and none of the transitional life forms it is supposed to contain. They think anything goes if given enough billions of years.

The fools! Here’s more:

When figuring the years according to the Bible, our universe was created only 6,000 years ago. They would rather find some other reason for our existence than have God telling them how to live. It is now politically incorrect for our kids to sing “God Bless America” in their classrooms.

What’s to be done? Marjorie tells us in the conclusion of her powerful letter:

We love you, America. Wake up and see what is happening to you. Return to your God so he can once again bless you.

You should listen to Marjorie, dear reader. She knows what she’s talking about.

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

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David McConaghie Trial Lurches Forward

Creationist voyeurism

Creationist voyeurism

Our last update on this topic was a month ago: David McConaghie Trial Begins. At that time we were told that McConaghie’s defense will be heard at the end of July.

As you all know, David McConaghie is 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 (DUP) member David Simpson’s constituency office. The trial has been delayed several times.

We’ve been eagerly following this case because we think it provides a unique insight into the minds of creationists, illustrating a connection between moral depravity and the intellectual aberration of creationism. Our hypothesis is that such behavior may be caused by some heretofore unsuspected disorder which we call Creationism-Voyeurism Syndrome (CVS).

Today, the website of the BBC reports: Ex-DUP adviser David McConaghie: Camera in toilet trial adjourned. After following this case for so long, we’ve learned that “adjourned” means “continued.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

David McConaghie is accused of recording a woman carrying out a private act in the toilets at MP David Simpson’s constituency office. A court viewed footage showing what appears to be Mr McConachie placing the device in a bowl of potpourri. Mr McConaghie denies making recordings for his sexual gratification.

Perhaps he did it for spiritual enlightenment. Then we’re told:

So far, Mr McConaghie’s lawyers have not said anything to suggest that this is not him. The prosecution said it appears the defence have in fact accepted that it is him.

Okay, now what’s left of the defense? Let’s read on:

But the defence says that there is no corroborating evidence to prove that Mr McConachie, from Cottage Hill, Dollingstown, carried out this act for his own sexual gratification. They say that, as this is a key pillar of the charges against him, the trial should now be stopped – effectively because there is no case to answer.

[*Groan*] What do they want from the prosecution — another batch of videos showing McConaghie pleasuring himself while he watches the bathroom videos? This is the last of the BBC story:

A district judge adjourned the case and will hear submissions in relation to this argument in August.

This is the most absurdly prolonged process we’ve ever encountered. Why wasn’t that issue raised before the trial, in a defense motion to dismiss the charges? Normally, if something new and unexpected pops up — which obviously isn’t the situation here — a quick recess would be in order, while the lawyers argued the point in the judge’s chambers. Then, when the judge ruled, the case would proceed.

But here, the essential elements of a criminal charge should be well known, so the judge should be able to rule immediately as to whether the prosecution had presented the essentials of its case. Why is it necessary to continue the trial?

It seems that nothing about this case is proceeding normally. This is taking forever! Well, okay — maybe that’s how things are done in Northern Ireland. The trial will resume some time in August. We’ll be right here, waiting.

Addendum: Another news article said the trial would be resumed on 26 August. That should be sufficient time for the judge to ponder this difficult issue.

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

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