Category Archives: Science

Creationist Wisdom #560: Great Arguments

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Daily Inter Lake of Kalispell, Montana — the gateway to Glacier National Park. The letter is titled More arguments against evolution. The newspaper has a comments section.

Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. We’ll use only his first name, which is Waldemar. That’s too fancy, so we’ll call him Waldo. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

This letter is not for the people who are steeped in the religion of evolution. … This, rather, is for people who are sitting on the fence — who know that evolution can’t possibly be true, but because the lie has been told so often and so forcefully, they’re not sure what to believe. Some of the people who deny the existence of God are even intelligent in some areas and have letters behind their name. The Bible also gives them letters behind their name — FOOL.

Waldo equates evolution and atheism, and he won’t waste his time talking to those people. His letter is for the fence-sitters. He says:

I’ll admit that I don’t understand many things. But this I do know. I’m alive and living on this planet. I can look around and see a creation that is fearfully and wonderfully made.

We’ve seen that argument before: We call it Cogito, ergo Oogity Boogity! Or maybe Cogito, ergo Oogito!, which is barbarous Latin, but it’s cute. Let’s read on:

Before the supposed evolution of humans can be considered, I have other questions. Where did this earth come from? Where did the laws of physics come from? (Gravity, motion, momentum, centrifugal force, etc.) Where did the elements come from? Where did all the metals come from? Did the metals all evolve from a single one?

Ah yes, One can’t know anything unless he knows everything. We’ve seen that argument before too, but we never named it. What shall we call it? We’ll give it a classy Latin name: Nihil sine omnibum (nothing without everything), or maybe Nihil nisi totus (nothing unless all). That’ll do for now. It means there can never be any science, because we have to start somewhere; but a beginning is nothing, so why bother? Waldo continues:

We know that the earth is round. If all the people of the world were told to point upward, half of the people would be pointing in opposite directions. Half of the airplanes that are taking off at any given time are taking off upside down. Cars, trains and people are walking and driving around upside down or sideways compared to other people of the world at any given time. The atmosphere stays in place around the world instead of dissipating into space. What holds it to the earth? What is gravity and how does it work? How can these wonders be?

Waldo seems to think that’s an argument against evolution. Maybe it is, but we don’t get it. Here’s more:

For argument’s sake, let’s say that some goo accidently [sic] came to life. There would have to be a law that said that that goo would have to reproduce after its own kind. Otherwise, nothing that was reproduced would be the same. Where did that law originate? And if it started to reproduce, again for argument’s sake, after its own kind, at what point would two sexes be needed? And at what point would those two sexes evolve? If that goo had the capability to reproduce by itself, why would there be the need for two sexes? Each sex would have to have the capability to reproduce itself until such time as all functions of each sex were fully developed so that they could finally mate to create the system of reproduction that exists now.

We’ve seen that before too — Jack Chick: Sex Is Evolution’s Nightmare. Because we’re giving Waldo’s arguments Latin names, that will be Sexus ergo deus. Moving along:

Since most living creatures need male and female to reproduce, logic dictates that every living thing that needs two sexes to create would all have to be in a single line of evolution. That means insects, animals and humans all evolved from each other. Preposterous? ABSOLUTELY!

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Waldo knows when to run away from a logical conclusion. Hey — this is the opposite of reductio ad absurdum. What shall we call it? Reductio ad manufesto, ergo falsus. (If the conclusion is obvious, it’s false.)

Waldo’s letter is huge, so now we’ll start skipping around for some choice goodies:

I have read that late in life Darwin refuted his own theory and said, “I was a young man with unformed ideas.”

[…]

[The Bible says] that Satan is a liar, and it is his intention to influence anyone that he can and drag them to hell with him. It was his lie from the beginning that he spread through unsuspecting people (Darwin and others).

[…]

I must admit that my puny little mind can’t understand the magnitude of God. I can not wrap my mind around infinity. I can’t comprehend the awesome power, knowledge and majesty of God. But this I do know. Evolution is not science, but rather it is a lie that was perpetrated by the god of the lie, Satan.

[…]

The Bible says that “a fool has said in his heart that there is no God.” Don’t be that fool. We have one chance to make our choice for eternity. … If all the proponents of evolution want to continue in their folly, they have that choice.

This is really a great letter! And now we come to the end:

The creation of God is intricately and delicately made, not evolved. This universe, all the laws and everything in it was made by God. And that is the truth.

Now we know The Truth Thanks, Waldo.

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

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Rev. David Rives — Not a Flat-Earther

The Drool-o-tron™ kicked in suddenly with its sirens and flashing lights. The blinking letters of its wall display said WorldNetDaily (WND). Our computer was locked onto WND’s presentation of the latest video by the brilliant and articulate leader of David Rives Ministries.

Because we’ve been recently slimed by some re-postings of the rev’s older videos, we were skeptical, but that vanished when we saw WND’s headline: Was ‘flat earth’ theory grounded in history? We’ve never seen the rev talk about that before. Creationists usually avoid the subject because the bible is so spectacularly wrong about the shape of the Earth.

But your Curmudgeon has mentioned it. In The Earth Is Flat!, we gave you all the scriptural references to a flat Earth — in the Old Testament and also in the New. So we were curious to see what the rev had to say.

The rev has his own title for the video, which is Testament to the Spherical Earth, Detriment to the Flat Earth. He doesn’t tell us anything new. He points out that Columbus didn’t set out to prove that the Earth isn’t flat. We know that. He tells his drooling fans that Aristotle demonstrated that the Earth is a sphere. We know that too. But what about the bible? Isn’t it the world’s greatest authority on science?

He mentions only the Isaiah passage (Isaiah 40:22) that we discussed in our post, where there’s a reference to “the circle of the Earth” — but as we pointed out, that’s properly translated as “disk.” The rev doesn’t even quote it, although it’s all he’s got. Instead he recites the line before it, which doesn’t help him at all: “Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?”

Otherwise, the rev wisely avoids all other scripture discussions of the Earth’s shape. Smart boy! He knows the bible is a flat Earth book from beginning to end.

We don’t understand the purpose of his video, unless it’s to clarify that he’s not a flat-Earther. Few creationists are, which says a lot about their lack of consistency in relying on scripture. Six-day creation? Oh yeah! Flat Earth? [*Silence*]

The rev is wearing his bible-boy suit — with a necktie — and he’s still the cutest rev you’ve ever seen! The video is his usual 90-second presentation — before the commercial. Go ahead, click over to WND and watch it.

As we always do with the rev’s videos, we dedicate the comments section for your use as an Intellectual Free Fire Zone. You know the rules. Okay, the comments are open. Go for it!

Addendum: Can you believe it — we’ve been slimed yet again! WND posted the exact same video a year ago — Rev. David Rives and the Flat Earth. This is ridiculous! We’re done with the rev.

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

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News of the Universe

Look what we found at PhysOrg: Accelerating universe? Not so fast. This interests us. That’s because while you are nestled all snug in your beds, with visions of sugarplums dancing in your heads, your Curmudgeon is worried about the universe. We’ll tell you why.

At the start of the 20th Century, before the Big Bang theory, it was generally believed that the universe was eternal. That’s a comfortable belief, so we understand the resistance the Big Bang theory encountered. It wasn’t easy to accept that time, space, and everything had an actual beginning. The theory didn’t begin to gain widespread acceptance until Edwin Hubble found that the redshift of distant galaxies demonstrated that the further away things were, the faster away from us (and everything else) they were moving. The theory was finally confirmed with the discovery in 1964 of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

After the Big Bang was undeniable, there were versions of the cyclic model of the universe — described by Wikipedia as “an eternal series of oscillations, each beginning with a big bang and ending with a big crunch; in the interim, the Universe would expand for a period of time before the gravitational attraction of matter causes it to collapse back in and undergo a bounce.”

That wasn’t quite as comforting as an eternal and essentially unchanging universe — in which mankind might exist forever — but despite thermodynamic objections, a cyclic (or oscillating) universe was nevertheless better than a universe which, for no discernible reason, suddenly began to exist. The cyclic model meant that we still had an eternal universe, but it periodically expands and contracts.

Unfortunately, a cyclic universe means that humanity won’t exist forever. This specific expansion is our cycle, and when it ends, so will we. Were it possible to survive the end of a cycle, some species probably would have figured it out in one of the infinite number of prior cycles, and if that had happened, we would have noticed their existence by now because they would have been here when this cycle began. Therefore one day, billions of years hence, we’ll be gone. Nevertheless, although humanity won’t exist beyond the current cycle, there would always be a universe, so things were still relatively comforting, albeit far less so than if the universe we observe were eternal.

But then, starting in 1998, it was discovered that we live in an accelerating universe — the universe appears to be expanding at an increasing rate. It’s supposedly due to dark energy — whatever that is — and it means, according to the current consensus, that there won’t be an eventual gravitational collapse, followed by another expansion, ad infinitum. The eternally cyclic universe was gone.

So for almost 20 years, we’ve been living with the idea that the universe isn’t eternal. It’s what one might call a cosmic one-night stand. The universe began to exist, and it will eventually expand to the point where it’s essentially nothing. Then it’s over. That’s not comforting at all, but the universe doesn’t care.

It’s not reality’s job to make us happy. However improbable a one-time universe may be, that’s what we seem to be stuck with. It doesn’t make any sense, and we don’t like it. There’s got to be something we’re missing, and we’d like to know what that is.

With that background, let’s see what the PhysOrg article tells us. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

A University of Arizona-led team of astronomers found that the type of supernovae commonly used to measure distances in the universe fall into distinct populations not recognized before; the findings have implications for our understanding of how fast the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang.

Aha! There’s more to it after all. Then they say:

Certain types of supernovae, or exploding stars, are more diverse than previously thought, a University of Arizona-led team of astronomers has discovered. The results, reported in two papers published in the Astrophysical Journal, have implications for big cosmological questions, such as how fast the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang.

Here’s one of the papers they’re talking about: THE CHANGING FRACTIONS OF TYPE IA SUPERNOVA NUV–OPTICAL SUBCLASSES WITH REDSHIFT . You can only read the abstract without a subscription. Back to PhysOrg:

Most importantly, the findings hint at the possibility that the acceleration of the expansion of the universe might not be quite as fast as textbooks say. The team, led by UA astronomer Peter A. Milne, discovered that type Ia supernovae, which have been considered so uniform that cosmologists have used them as cosmic “beacons” to plumb the depths of the universe, actually fall into different populations. The findings are analogous to sampling a selection of 100-watt light bulbs at the hardware store and discovering that they vary in brightness.

[…]

The discovery casts new light on the currently accepted view of the universe expanding at a faster and faster rate, pulled apart by a poorly understood force called dark energy.

[…]

The authors conclude that some of the reported acceleration of the universe can be explained by color differences between the two groups of supernovae, leaving less acceleration than initially reported. This would, in turn, require less dark energy than currently assumed.

Nevertheless, the expansion is still accelerating, so your Curmudgeon continues to worry about the universe. But does the universe worry about the Curmudgeon? No, apparently not. That’s how it is.

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

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Casey: Life on Mars and Intelligent Design

The Discoveroids, being creationists in the closet, have mastered the technique of wearing their science garb in public, in preparation for court cases. They spend millions of dollars lobbying their loyal lackeys in state legislatures who are sympathetic toward creationism, all the while insisting that they’re not creationists — in the vain hope that their Academic Freedom bills will persuade some hapless judge somewhere that their efforts don’t violate the First Amendment.

But it’s a flimsy disguise — a reversible coat with meaningless science jargon on the outside and miracles on the inside — a garment made for flashers. Their “Who me, creationist?” charade is no more convincing than the simulated innocence of a flasher who lurks around schoolyards exposing himself to children, and then swiftly closes his coat when any adult looks his way.

Although their shabby masquerade doesn’t fool anyone — except a few imbecilic state legislators and school board members — it has certain advantages. The main advantage is that because they’re not engaged in science, they’re unconstrained by reality. That leaves them free to flail about with a variety of justifications for their faith in the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — until they find one that seems effective in generating a flow of drool and financial contributions from their adoring fans.

This is nicely illustrated by the latest post at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog. The thing is titled Sure, There Might Be Life on Mars — But Evolutionary Thinking Doesn’t Help Explain Why, and it’s by Casey Luskin, our favorite creationist. Casey says, with bold font added by us:

The LA Times recently ran the headline, “NASA: We’ll find alien life in 10 to 20 years.” Ellen Stofan, NASA’s chief scientist, was quick to clarify what they meant: “We are not talking about little green men. We are talking about little microbes.” And why is NASA so optimistic? Because Mars once had water, and they think water is the key to life:

[Casey quotes that newspaper:] For example, Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA, cited a study that analyzed the atmosphere above Mars’ polar ice caps and suggests that 50% of the planet’s northern hemisphere once had oceans up to a mile deep, and that it had that water for a long period of time — up to 1.2 billion years. “We think that long period of time is necessary for life to get more complex,” Stofan said.

This is the article that got Casey so agitated. We should pause here to mention that the Discoveroids have been all over the place about life on other worlds. First they denied that it exists, then they said that maybe it does, but if so, the intelligent designer is responsible, and they’ve lately claimed that SETI is based on their intelligent design “theory” — see Discoveroids: More on SETI & Intelligent Design. So no matter what gets found out there, or what doesn’t get found, they’ll be able to claim victory. Okay, back to Casey:

I don’t automatically dismiss the idea that we might one day find life (or evidence of past life) on Mars. However, simply having an ocean for 1.2 billion years is not a good enough reason to expect that. Why? It’s not sufficient time to for life to arise or “get more complex” via unguided evolutionary mechanisms.

What? Casey explains:

A materialist may initially find it difficult to grasp what I’m saying here. “Life on Earth appeared within just a few hundred million years of the end of the late heavy bombardment period,” he may reason, “so surely it would not take 1.2 billion years for complex life to evolve on Mars.” And that’s the mistake in materialists’ thinking: They assume that anywhere life exists — Earth, Mars, wherever — that it exists there because of unguided chemical evolution.

Foolish materialists! In their blindness to what is so obvious to the Discoveroids, their thinking is limited. Let’s read on:

It’s sort of an unofficial but unchangeable premise of the entire field of astrobiology that life exists only because it evolves. In reality, though, life on Earth is irreducibly complex in such a spectacular manner that even 1.2 billion years represents a dramatically inadequate time frame for life to arise and reach its presently complex state via unguided chemical and biological processes.

Yes — that’s because life is impossible without the miraculous intervention of the intelligent designer — despite the Discoveroids’ claim that the whole universe was fine-tuned for life. Therefore life couldn’t have arisen on Mars — not by natural processes.

See where this is going? If we find nothing out there, that’s “proof” that we live on The Privileged Planet. And if we do find life on Mars or elsewhere — no problem. That will be proof of the designer’s handiwork. Heads, tails, no matter. Whatever the evidence may be, the Discoveroids always win. Casey continues:

So are there any good reasons to hope for life on Mars? There might be — but guess what, they were developed (in part) by a proponent of intelligent design. Guillermo Gonzalez [a Discoveroid and co-author of The Privileged Planet] advocates the concept that nearby bodies like Mars or the Moon might be “earth’s attic.” In that scenario, rocks and even organic material ejected from Earth might eventually find their way to Mars.

[…]

And if there was once an ocean of water on Mars, perhaps Earth’s life could have found a friendly environment there and thrived. This is far more plausible than life evolving on Mars and “getting more complex” via unguided chemical and biological processes.

Neat, huh? Okay, that takes care of Mars, which is the Discoveroids’ immediate problem. But what about life elsewhere? Casey ignores that problem. He says:

So is it worth looking for life on Mars? Absolutely. In humanity’s search for truth, scientific research and the exploration of space are extremely important and I wish we had more funding to go to these efforts.

Nice flip-flop. In an earlier post, Casey said that searching for habitable, life-bearing extra-solar planets is a waste of time and money — see Casey: There’s No Alien Life Out There. Here’s how he concludes his essay:

However, if we’re going to search for life on Mars, let’s allow plausible science and not dubious evolutionary assumptions to guide our efforts and financial investments. Intelligent design is certainly compatible with finding life on Mars, and perhaps ID thinking could help guide this sort of research.

“ID thinking.” BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

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

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