Ominous Silence Free Fire Zone

The Cosmic Aardvark

Here we are, leading a merry expedition into unknown territory, when suddenly an ominous silence is everywhere. Not even crickets can be heard.

You know what it means — the creationists are up to something. But what? Is an attack coming? If so, when? And from what direction? No one knows. Those people are capable of anything — except rational thought. All we can do is remain on guard. And of course, place our trust in the Cosmic Aardvark.

Until something comes along, you must entertain yourselves. We therefore declare this post to be an Intellectual Free Fire Zone. We’re open for the discussion of pretty much anything — science, politics, economics, whatever — as long as it’s tasteful and interesting. But beware of the profanity filters.

Okay, the comments are open. Have at it, dear reader.

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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AIG Says We’re Alone in the Universe

The question of whether we’re alone in the universe is being tackled by the brilliant scientists at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else.

Their article is titled The Evidence Is In: We’re Alone in the Universe. It was written by Danny Faulkner. Here’s AIG’s biographical information about him. They say he taught physics and astronomy until he joined AIG. His undergraduate degree is from Bob Jones University. Here are some excerpts from Danny’s post, with bold font added by us for emphasis and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

ET isn’t a mystery, if you’re willing to examine the data from 60 years of research and take it to its logical conclusion. … The problem isn’t a lack of data — we’re awash in it. And the problem is not that we don’t have any good tests. Several great scientific minds have already suggested some solid ways to test for the existence of extraterrestrial life.

Then he discusses the scientific tests:

Let’s examine the three most famous tests, and we’ll discover that something more than cold, hard science is preventing them from reaching the logical answer.

Egad, what’s preventing us from reaching the answer? That gets explained later. Meanwhile, some of the “tests” Danny discusses aren’t really tests — they’re ways to think about the question. He begins with the Fermi paradox. You know how it goes: If the universe is full of life, some of it intelligent, then — as Enrico Fermi is said to have asked — “Where are they?”

We’ve written about the Fermi paradox before. Our favorite speculation is that intelligent aliens may be out there, but their civilizations are like ours were until quite recently. They never developed technologically beyond ancient Egypt, or Babylonia, or Rome. The aliens, abundant though they may be, have no serious disciplines like physics, chemistry, etc, or the economies to support them. They’re not sending signals because all they have is torches, trumpets, and their own equivalent of the pony express. So although they exist, we can’t detect any signals from them.

Anyway, after discussing that “test” with his own spin, Danny tells us:

A decade after Fermi, the astronomer Frank Drake took a different tack to test whether intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe. By Drake’s day, humans had been broadcasting radio waves for several decades. Many radio waves pass through the earth’s atmosphere and into space, so it should be possible for alien civilizations to pick them up and become aware of our existence. Drake turned this process around — he reasoned that if other civilizations could detect our broadcasts, we ought to be able to pick up theirs as well.

With that as background he discusses SETI, the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. Looking for signals really is a kind of “test,” but we haven’t detected any alien transmissions yet.

Scrambled up with that, Danny describes the well-known Drake equation, described by Wikipedia as: an “argument used to estimate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy.” It’s not a “test” of extraterrestrial life. Rather, it’s just a way of making estimates.

Then he mentions the recent discovery of thousands of extra-solar planetary systems (and he doesn’t mention how that contradicts what had been the biblical assumption that Earth is the only “world” in existence). He discusses what we assume is the necessity for intelligent life to be on an Earth-like planet in its star’s habitable zone, and we haven’t found too many of those yet.

We know what you’re thinking: That’s all very nice, but where’s the creationism? Okay, here it comes. Danny announces that we’re all alone in the universe, and justifies it like this:

Many scientists would complain that not all the data is in yet. [Indeed!] But when is all the data ever in? We can always collect more data. Furthermore, scientists frequently make conclusions based upon far less data. So why the reluctance to reach a conclusion in this case? The conclusion that is warranted by the data does not support the evolutionary worldview of most scientists. There’s a term for that: bias. [Gasp!] And extreme bias at that.

The evolutionists are biased! Let’s read on:

It’s not a matter of evidence or science. If you believe in evolution, then evolution must be common in the universe. Period. And this negative answer is out of the question, not because of what scientists find but because of their unwavering commitment to a belief.

Fortunately, creationists aren’t biased. Danny says:

If you believe in the Creator of the Bible, however, you have no qualms following the data to its logical conclusion. [Huh?] Biblical creationists understand that life doesn’t just happen (and good science agrees with that conclusion). God created it just 6,000 years ago.

Yes, that’s how “good science” is done. He explains further:

The three lines of evidence presented here — the Fermi paradox, the null SETI results, and the lack of earthlike planets — amount to scientific data. [Ooooooooooooh!] And all three agree with the prediction from biblical creation: we’re alone in the universe. To reach the right conclusion, evolutionary scientists do not need more data about life elsewhere in the universe, but the right starting belief about life here on earth.

Then he applies creationist “facts” to the variables in the Drake equation, and once again comes up with the conclusion that we’re all alone. We’ll let you read that for yourself. Here’s how Danny ends his fascinating essay:

[W]e know from God’s Word, which infallibly documents [Hee hee!] how life came to be, that life didn’t evolve here or elsewhere. The product of the Drake equation is zero. Ergo, life doesn’t exist anywhere else. This simple theoretical approach matches what we see in the world. Therefore, it’s time to call it: apart from God and angels, we’re alone in the universe.

Now you know, dear reader. The great question has been answered. Creation science says we’re all alone.

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Discovery Institute: How Much Longer?

From time to time we’ve written about the failures and flops of the Disccovery Institute — see, e.g.: Catalog of Discoveroid Creationist Catastrophes, and then Discovery Institute: A History of Failure.

Their sad saga begins in 1995 with their Wedge strategy. You can read the actual document at the NCSE website: The Wedge Document. 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 it and its lofty goals in What is the “Wedge Document”? The Discoveroids have failed to achieve every one of its objectives.

The long history of Discoveroid defeat begins with their two-pronged effort to promote their anti-evolution Academic Freedom bills, which we analyzed here: Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws. As you know, only two states have been foolish enough to enact the Discoveroids’ model law — Louisiana and Tennessee. All other states that considered it have rejected it.

That lobbying campaign was accompanied by the release of a “documentary” staring Ben Stein, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The film was a box office flop, and it eventually ended up in bankruptcy court — View the Bankruptcy Court Bids for “Expelled”.

We can’t overlook their various litigation efforts. There have been many of those, too many to mention here, but the most spectacular case was Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. It’s sufficient here to say that although a few of their cases resulted in out-of-court nuisance settlements, they have never actually won in court.

There’s also their pathetic effort to penetrate the academic world in an effort to gain legitimacy for their “theory” of intelligent design. Other than various bible colleges, this too has been a total disaster. See Intelligent Design’s Brief Shining Moment, about the short-lived Michael Polanyi Center at Baylor University, which was headed by William Dembski.

Who can forget their sad effort to establish a creationist movement on college campuses with their IDEA clubs, about which Wikipedia has a writeup: Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center.

The Discoveroids have failed at everything — literally everything. Wikipedia even has an article on Discovery Institute intelligent design campaigns.

So what are they doing? They persevere with creationist revivals at churches and bible colleges, and they crank out books and pamphlets, which they hawk at their website. But all they really have left is their blog, where they complain about the “discrimination” they endure in the press and at universities. It’s also where they continue their efforts at quote-mining, nit-picking evidence, blaming Darwin for all the evils in the world, and claiming all kinds of non-existent evidence for the miraculous works of their intelligent designer.

That brings us to our question: How much longer will their generous patrons continue to fund the Discoveroids? We find it amazing that they’ve kept the money flowing this long. We’d like to hear from you, dear reader. What do you think? How many more years can this go on?

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Creationist Wisdom #939: Micro Macro Mania

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Grand Island Independent of Grand Island, Nebraska. It’s titled Debate both sides of macroevolution, and 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 high school science teacher. It’s Dave Olson, who teaches at Northwest High School. We wrote about him a few years ago — see Creationism in a Nebraska School Board. He was arguing that he “wants students to learn the evidence both for and against neo-Darwinian evolution.” He gave the school board a PowerPoint presentation with several slides quoting Discoveroid Jonathan Wells.

Then he appeared here one year ago in #836: The Science Teacher. Now he’s at it again. We’ll give you a few excerpts from Dave’s latest, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]. Here we go!

At this time of year, evolutionary theory is presented in our schools and is valid in some areas regarding change in living organisms. However, evolution today has come to have a variety of definitions. This writing concerns that which defines how new species arise.

We can see where Dave is going. He’s about to dance the “micro-macro mambo” — see our discussion of that in Common Creationist Claims Confuted. He says:

The “icons of evolution” not only are lacking evidence but also are misleading. The fossil record does not contain detailed information about the appearance of new species. They appear abruptly, no intermediates.

Icons of Evolution is the title of a creationist book by Discoveroid Jonathan Wells — with whom Dave seems to have an obsession. He also thinks that examples of every generation of every species on Earth should be well-preserved in the fossil record so we can easily see how, over millions of generations, one species gradually becomes another. Lacking that kind of impossible detail, Dave is eager to embrace supernaturalism. He tells us:

Darwin based his inference of common ancestry on the belief that the earliest stages of embryo development are the most similar. [What?] He used the drawings of Ernst Haeckel, which were shown to be falsified. Yet today’s books claim the same groups of embryonic cells produce similar cells in the same patterns. This was disproved in 1985 by Gavin de Beer, who disproved homologous structures and embryonic development as a mechanism for speciation. Even the presentation of how life began is riddled with speculation of microspheres and eukaryotic cell formation, which have been shown to be doubtful by Albert de Roos.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The theory of evolution never depended on Haeckel’s drawings. Ernst Haeckel was a student in the 1850s when Darwin published Origin of Species. Darwin did mention some of Haeckel’s work several years later in The Descent of Man, but he never embraced and relied upon Haeckel’s work. Dave continues:

The point is the one-sided approach [i.e., science only] to macroevolution leaves a void for students to enable them to discuss this controversial issue. This controversy is not going away. [Dave won’t abandon Oogity Boogity!] What I find disconcerting is our Nebraska Science Standards promote argumentation with evidence, yet, do not apply this concept to macroevolution.

Dave is upset. There’s not enough argumentation in school about “macroevolution.” Let’s read on:

The goal here is for parents to encourage their students to ask the questions regarding the “proof” for macroevolution and to research these concepts to determine their validity.

In other words,state biology classes should teach evolution in biology class using creationist material from the Discoveroids. The Kitzmiller case never happened. And now we come to the end:

Disliking, avoiding or shunning ideas that don’t agree with the status quo is not good for our country. Rather than protection from diverse arguments and points of view, our students should be exposed to them, to teach them how to think and find the truth.

Dave is a Discoveroid-style creationist, and he dreams of teaching their version of Oogity Boogity. But if he’s so unhappy with his teaching job, why doesn’t he go to work for some bible school?

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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