Beards are proof of evolution is false? August 10, 2009Posted by Evil Bender in Origins, Science, wingnuts.
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So says “Brian Thomas, M. S.“:
On the other hand, if everything was created by a God who exists outside the physical world, there is a ready answer, one with broad application: beards present a certain appearance. Aesthetic features were emplaced by Someone who knew how things look in addition to how things work. Beards do not confer any selectable survival advantage to humankind, but they do serve to add distinction to men, perhaps as different features distinguish women.
It would be consistent to think that it simply pleased the Creator to outfit humans and other creatures with certain visually appealing characteristics. “But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him” (1 Corinthians 15:38). The study of purposes is called apobetics, and beards are evidence that God designed certain features simply with aesthetics in mind.
I’ll just point out that this is actually a pretty decent argument when compared to the ICR’s usual tripe. Which means, naturally, that it’s only embarrassing, not shockingly embarrassing.
Right up until the end of the piece, that is:
Researchers have not yet found a metaprogram in this universe that guides clouds of space dust into raw functional, let alone variously aesthetic, forms. After all, what does the impersonal universe care about beauty? A Creator God who appreciates beauty and wants others to appreciate His handiwork must be responsible for the origin of aesthetic features. Men have beards–some thick, some sparse–because it pleased God to adorn them so.
Don’t you love it when Creationists think they’ve just indicted science for points that scientists long-since have considered and dealt with? It’s almost as funny as their pathetic misunderstandings of evolutionary theory. Seriously, have these people ever heard of sexual selection? Genetic drift? For that matter, are they really so stupid that they can’t think of a more plausible reason that beards aren’t in favor than that A Magic Man Gave Them To Us But We’ve Lost Our Way? (Hint to Creationists: when is a beard more important? when you’re in a cave or your parents’ nice warm basement?)
…which is to say, revisionist nonsense.
Pat Buchanan, last seen suggesting that WWII was the fault of Churchill, and already infamous as a holocaust denier, has decided to turn his Goldberg-esque eye on Evolution. As an exercise in demonstrating just how odious Buchanan is, and as yet another reminder that MSNBC continues to give the bigot a voice, this post will point out just a few of Buchanan’s lies and distortions. Readers are encouraged to fill any gaps with their own observations: there is literally too much here for me to track down every error.
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Over at UD (I’m still not linking to that thoroughly dishonest blog) the latest post is by Walter ReMine, entitled “Message Theory–Testable Alternative to Darwinism–Part 1.” He’s been promoted by ID supporters before, but his (self-published) popular, never peer-reviewed book that’s more than 15 years old still hasn’t received the critical attention he would like, so he’s back and making waves about how evolutionists won’t take his work seriously.
For those of you in the know, creationists describe “Message Theory” as proposing that “Life was reasonably designed for survival and for communicating a message that tells where life came from. The biotic message says, ‘Life is the product of a single designer – life was intentionally designed to resist all other explanations’.”
And it probably won’t surprise you to find that ReMine doesn’t have any real background in biology, but rather is an engineer (why are so many engineers cranks, anyway?).
Neither will it surprise you that, after spending 12 paragraphs talking about how great and testable “Message Theory” is, ReMine neglects to explain anything about it, instead promising that in a future post.
And that is why I feel bad for UD: they just accidentally admitted the whole arc of creationist “thought”! The pattern is:
1) publish a “theory” without peer review;
2) pout that no one takes your easily refuted crackpot theory seriously;
3) promise a serious, testable alternative to “Darwinism” and/or a serious research-based program;
4) GOTO 2.
In extreme cases, this should be readjusted to GOTO 1. I wonder how many times ReMine has completed this grand pattern. Probably about as many consecutive years as we’ve seen promises like these from the creationist camp.
The Onion wins again September 5, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in Humor, Origins, Religion.
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What a wonderful and hilarious rebuttal to the “science is just another relgion” nonsense.
Ann Coulter: still shilling for Dembski June 15, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in Origins, Religion, Science, wingnuts.
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You may recall that Ann Coulter hates evolution just as she hates liberals, Muslims, women, gay people, etc. In writing: Godless: My Personal Collection of Logical Fallacies, she relied heavily on Dembski’s “expertise.” Now she’s shilling for his new book.
In my book Godless, I showed that Darwinism is the hoax of the century and, consequently, the core of the religion of liberalism…. Liberals respond to critics of their religion like Cotton Mather to Salem’s “witches.” With this book, two more witches present themselves for burning: Sean McDowell, whose gift is communicating with young people, and Bill Dembski, often called the Isaac Newton of intelligent design. I think Dembski is more like the Dick Butkus of Intelligent Design.
Jesus Christ, Ann–can’t you get through the opening sentence of a blurb for someone else’ book without shamelessly shilling your own? They’ll happily include the book title in the attribution, I’m sure. Did you really have to desperately make this all about you?
I know: yet another silly question from E. B.
Mel Gibson: scientific mastermind, naturally! June 13, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in language and lit, Origins, Science, wingnuts.
In between his repeated misrepresentations of my points and his busy regimen of consulting forth graders to come up with nicknames for his opponents,* SalCordova takes a moment to approving cite this interview with Mel “It’s the Jew’s Fault” Gibson:
It is worth noting that Mel Gibson has discussed his views of evolution publicly.
>From a July 1995 interview:
Q: Do you believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution or that God created man in his image?
GIBSON: The latter.
Q: So you can’t accept that we descended from monkeys and apes?
GIBSON: No, I think it’s bull—-. If it isn’t, why are they still around? How come apes aren’t people yet? It’s a nice theory, but I can’t swallow it. There’s a big credibility gap. The carbon dating thing that tells you how long something’s been around, how accurate is that, really? I’ve got one of Darwin’s books at home and some of that stuff is pretty d— funny. Some of his stuff is true, like that the giraffe has a long neck so it can reach the leaves. But I just don’t think you can swallow the whole piece.
In bold is the stuff Sal decided to leave out of the quote, without indicating anything had been truncated. Maybe he was actually smart enough to recognize that “how come apes aren’t people yet?” isn’t a great way to accuse science of a credibility gap.
I would have thought even Sal might have been embarrassed by statements as stupid as Mel Gibson’s, but he’s too busy fantasizing about how a Great Flood movie will make everyone believe in Creationism. But he’s not too busy to edit out the most embarrassing parts, obviously.
*He’s apparently settled on “EvilBoneHead” for me. I figure it’s only a matter of time before he makes fun of my glasses and kicks sand in my face.
William Dembski: more unhinged by the moment! June 8, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in Origins, Religion, Science, wingnuts.
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First there was this note on Uncommon Descent, which would have been hilarious if it was not so bigoted and sad. In a post entitled “In an undesigned world”, he writes
Colorado Governor Bill Ritter’s signing of a transgender anti-discrimination bill points up the lunacy that ensues in a world without design.
That’s right: for Dembski, lack of design leads to measures protecting people from discrimination! The horror! As Jason Rosenhouse notes:
Dembski’s brief post only makes sense if the designer he envisions is of the sort whose absence robs us of certain moral strictures on our sexual identities. Something to keep in mind the next time he claims that ID takes no stand on the identity of the designer.
And not only is Dembski unintentionally revealing about just how specific and unpleasant is his designer, he also blames evolution for silly new age crap about Barak Obama:
…and in so doing illustrates why ID is so intellectually bankrupt. He won’t bother to link to me, and I’ve learned my lesson about trusting Creationists to be honest, so no linkage from me. But what he says is absolutely hilarious:
I mentioned last year in the thread $180 million anti-God movie bombs at box office:
[...]To which a god-hating Darwinist by the name of Evil Bender responded:
A passionate romance takes place while God mercilessly drowns the world.
My favorite part, though, is that Sal thinks it will inspire people to “uncover the mysteries of the great flood.” Sadly for Sal, “Magic Man Done It” is still not a scientific hypothesis. And pop culture nonsense is still not a way to do science, or else we’d be using Dinosaurs as household appliances.
Not so fast EvilBender, you godless Darwinazi. By the grace of God, I had a “chance” encounter with a movie producer who is laying the groundwork for just such a movie. It appears God placed the idea on the hearts of several of his people.
Thanks for proving my point, Sal! Even if this bunch of fundie Creationists does make the movie, that won’t invalidate a single word I wrote.
My point, as you can see in the (surprisingly non-quotemined*) excerpt above, isn’t that no one would make such a movie–movies about the “Great Flood” have been made before, after all–but that it won’t make anyone learn about the science of the flood, because that “science” doesn’t exist, and is just a bunch of Creationist magical thinking.
Naturally, Sal didn’t bother to refute that point. There’s no scientific merit in a movie based on anti-science, any more than there’s scientific merit in The Flintstones. There was no Great Flood circa 4,000 BC that drowned everything but eight people and 2 of each animal. Or was it seven of some? Seven pairs? At any rate, such an historical event never happened. And even if this film gets made, there is no chance it will advance science–only Sal’s Creationist agenda. As I said before.
But Sal apparently doesn’t realize this, since, like all the ID folks, he’s far more interested in PR than in actual science. Thanks for demonstrating that yet again, Sal!
(One more thing, Sal: I don’t believe in God, and so certainly do not hate him. I do think the God you envision–who murders almost all life on Earth because he’s angry–is a hateful, angry, petty deity. But as the Flood never happened, the God of the Flood story is certainly an imaginary deity, and so note worthy of “hate.” But keep using words like “Darwinazi.” They really help your credibility.)
*Though apparently Sal didn’t want to note that I mentioned “hydroplate theory” which he supports, a “theory” which can’t explain the flood, because for it to work everyone would be vaporized.
And the winner is Phyllis Schlafly. Schlafly, who will soon be receiving an honorary degree from Washington University for her hatred of women hatred of gay people intolerance poor argumentation role in the conservative movement, is, as will likely come as a surprise to none of you, an ardent anti-science loon.
It seems Schlafly is eager to defend Ben “The holocaust is all Darwin’s fault” Stein and his crappy movie Expelled. Let’s see what Schlafly has to say:
Ben Stein is known to many as an actor on Comedy Central. But the funniest part about his recent movie “Expelled” is not any clever lines spoken by Stein but the hysterical way liberals are trying to discourage people from seeing it.
I won’t bother reminding Ms Schlafly that “hysterical” has its roots in misogyny, seeing as that seems to be her intention in using the word. This wouldn’t be the first time that Schlafly has attacked women for being women and liberals for being womanly. And it’s never going to be clear which liberals want people not to see Expelled. Scientists and science supporters are rightly pointing out all the lies and inaccuracies in the film, but if anyone seems hell-bent on keeping people away, it must be those mean “liberal” reviewers who seem to be anything but fond of the film.
Stein’s critics fail to refute effectively anything in “Expelled”; they just use epithets to ridicule it and hope they can make it go away. However, it won’t go away; even Scientific American, which labeled the movie “shameful,” concedes that it cannot be ignored.
As was the case in the essay that caused this award to be named after Schlafly, she’s incapable of providing any evidence to support her claims. She doesn’t demonstrate–or even hint at–which arguments have gone unrefuted, but since the film’s two arguments are “ID is being discriminated against” and “Darwin caused the holocaust,” it’s safe to say that one need look no further than expelledexposed.com to see that Expelled has been thoroughly refuted.
The movie is about how scientists who dare to criticize Darwinism or discuss the contrary theory called intelligent design are expelled, fired, denied tenure, blacklisted and bitterly denounced. Academic freedom doesn’t extend to this issue.
The message of Stein’s critics comes through loud and clear. They don’t want anybody to challenge Darwinian orthodoxy or suggest that intelligent design might be an explanation of the origin of life.
We’re going to some throughly dishonest examples of this so-called mistreatment of ID proponents in this essay. If there is so much oppression of ID, one might wonder why ID proponents can’t find anything damning to put forward, and instead must lie and misrepresent facts to make their case.
And of course, the reason ID isn’t taken seriously is no Vast Darwinist Conspiracy, it’s that it isn’t science. It makes no meaningful predictions, it advances our knowledge not a bit. It is a science stopper, which proclaims loudly and repeatedly wherever there is an unanswered question “God did it!” But Schlafly doesn’t want us to notice that. She’s too busy making unsubstantiated claims about Liberal Oppression.
Stein, who serves as his own narrator in the movie, is very deadpan about it all. He doesn’t try to convince the audience that Darwinism is a fraud, or that God created the world, or even that some unidentified intelligent design might have started life on Earth.
Stein merely shows the intolerance of the universities, the government, the courts, the grant-making foundations and the media, and their determination to suppress any mention of intelligent design.
Apparently Schlafly thinks there is a difference between “the government” and “the courts.” And I can’t help but find hilarious her treating all of these entities as a monolithic block determined to silence ID. As with every good conspiracy, most anyone is a part of it, and all groups are thought to operate in complete unity.
And apparently Schlafly is unaware of the irony in arguing that ID isn’t being treated fairly while admitting that Expelled doesn’t even attempt to demonstrate ID is a credible idea. You see, Ms Schlafly, in science and in the academy in general, ideas aren’t given credence just because they exist–they have to be supported. If ID actually made predictions, and if those predictions turned out to be useful and true (indeed, if ID was anything but a god-of-the-gaps argument), it would be welcomed by scientists in the same way other once-controversial ideas–like evolutionary theory–have been. But instead of actually doing the science, Stein and Schlafly want to run a PR campaign. And this explains exactly why they’re not taken seriously by mean old “liberal” scientists.
The only question posed by the movie is why, oh why, is there such a deliberate, consistent, widespread, vindictive effort to silence all criticism of dogmatic Darwinism or discussion of alternate theories of the origin of life? Stein interviews scientists who were blacklisted, denied grants and ostracized in the academic community because they dared to write or speak the forbidden words.
Notice that she’s still very vague. Now, she’s just recapping Stein, so some of that can be forgiven, but if she really wants us to believe there is a Vast Darwinist Conspiracy out there, she’s going to have to do better than this. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Liberals are particularly upset because the movie identifies Darwinism, rather than evolution, as the sacred word that must be isolated from criticism. But that semantic choice makes good sense because Darwinism is easily defined by Darwin’s own writings, whereas the word evolution is subject to different and even contrary definitions.
Since this is Schlafly, no definition of Darwinism, “easily defined” though it may be, is forthcoming. Neither is an example of the “different and even contrary definitions” or evolution. This defense of Expelled is laughable: Darwinism isn’t what is being taught, largely because Darwin didn’t know about such important things as genes. That’s why we have evolutionary theory, with the neo-Darwinian synthesis. Someone with even cursory knowledge of the topic would know that, so it’s clear that Schlafly is less than credible here.
The truly funny part of the movie is Stein’s interview with Richard Dawkins, whose best-selling book “The God Delusion” (Mariner Books) established this Englishman as the world’s premier atheist. Dawkins is a leading advocate of the theory that all life evolved from a single beginning in an ancient mud puddle, perhaps after being struck by lightning.
Putting aside the issue of evolving, how did life begin in the first place? Under Stein’s questioning, Dawkins finally said it is possible that life might have evolved on Earth after the arrival of a more highly developed being from another planet.
Aren’t aliens from outer space the stuff of science fiction? And how was the other-planet alien created? According to Dawkins, life must have just spontaneously evolved on another planet, of course without God.
So after just saying this movie is about “Darwinism,” Schlafly has moved on to complaining about the origin of life, something that most certainly is not part of evolutionary theory or “Darwinism.” But by conflating the two, Schlafly ably demonstrates her own lack of knowledge on her subject matter.
Stein spent two years traveling the world to gather material for this movie. He interviewed scores of scientists and academics who say they were retaliated against because of questioning Darwin’s theories.
Stein interviewed Dr. Richard Sternberg, a biologist who lost his position at the prestigious Smithsonian Institution after he published a peer-reviewed article that mentioned intelligent design. Other academics who said they were victims of the anti-intelligent design campus police included astrobiologist Guillermo Gonzalez, denied tenure at Iowa State University, and Caroline Crocker, who lost her professorship at George Mason University.
This would be very damning if it were true, but Sternberg never worked for the Smithsonian and didn’t lose his position there; Gonzalez was denied tenure not because he liked ID but because of serious problems with his time at Iowa State, including a lack of publications, grant money, and grad student work; and Crocker was not fired, though her contract was not renewed–something that is common with non-tenure track positions such as the one she held.
Simply put, none of these people were fired or oppressed due to their support of ID. Sternberg faced nothing harsher than criticism for sneaking an insufficiently-vetted paper into a journal, Gonzalez simply didn’t live up to the scholarly demands of his department, and Crocker was not fired. Hardly a Vast Darwinist Conspiracy after all.
But, undaunted by the facts, Schlafly presses on:
Stein dares to include some filming at the death camps in Nazi Germany as a backdrop for interviews that explain Darwin’s considerable influence on Adolf Hitler and his well-known atrocities. The Darwin-Hitler connection was not a Stein discovery; Darwin’s influence on Hitler’s political worldview, and Hitler’s rejection of the sacredness of human life, is acknowledged in standard biographies of Hitler.
Naturally, she provides no examples or support for her claim. But it turns out that Darwin wasn’t a “considerable influence” on Hitler, and that Hitler used a jumble of whatever he could find–often radically misused–to justify his evil. He relied heavily upon Christian doctrine and anti-semitism that traced back to Martin Luther and beyond; blaming Darwin for the holocaust makes no more sense than blaming the Apostle Paul.
Stein also addresses how Darwin’s theories influenced one of the U.S.’s most embarrassing periods, the eugenics fad of the early 20th century. Thousands of Americans were legally sterilized as physically or mentally unfit.
“Embarrassing” is certainly an understated word choice for Schlafly, especially given the criticism above. The tragedy of such policies were well-known, and they relied not on Darwin, but on a radical misuse of his work: social Darwinism, a theory which Darwin’s writings show he would have found represensible.
And, of course, none of these criticisms mean a thing anyway. They’re not true, but even if they were, they would not demonstrate any flaw in evolutionary theory, any more than relativity is to blame for Truman using the Bomb.
Mandatory sterilization based on Darwin’s theories was even approved by the U.S. Supreme Court, with Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes writing his famous line, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Stein also reminds us that Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist who wanted to eliminate the races she believed were inferior.
Oh! A non sequitor and a shot at Planned Parenthood. How deeply relevant. Schlafly is merely demonstrating that she doesn’t really want to get at the facts–she just wants to preach to the choir. Her readers hate Planned Parenthood, and so won’t stop to question what Sanger has to do with “Darwinism.”
Stein’s message is that the attack on freedom of inquiry is anti-science, anti-American and anti-the whole concept of learning. His dramatization should force the public, and maybe even academia, to address this extraordinary intolerance of diversity.
Given that Schlafly’s lies and distortions continue her routine attacks on education, science and rationality, this claim is ironic in the extreme. And for someone who is so routinely intolerant as Schlafly to make such a claim is nothing short of hilarious.
Diversity is not threatened when ID is correctly identified as “not science.” There is no Vast Darwinist Conspiracy to silence ID, and neither Schlafly or Stein have provided a single credible reason to believe otherwise. What they have done is defend ignorance by assaulting knowledge, and defend pseudo-science by calling it fact. Schlafly lacks evidence, lies, and misrepresents with almost every word she writes. And for this meaningless and dishonest string of distortions, she wins the 2nd Phyllis Schlafly Wouldn’t Pass Freshmen Composition Award.
Of course not. But over at Uncommon Descent, they’re bleating about how Nature’s published an example of ID. One little problem, though: they’ve not detected the work of
god the designer, but rather just listened to those who did the research:
The following is an edited extract from a Nature paper. It is an example of real ID research. Notice that the designers only used evolutionary techniques to very slightly tweak the enzymes scaffold structure that had been designed with “borrowed components” from existing enzymes tacked together. The novel active site was completely intelligently designed. doi:10.1038/nature06879
Kemp elimination catalysts by computational enzyme design
“We designed eight enzymes with computationally designed active sites. In vitro evolution enhanced the computational designs, demonstrating the power of combining computational protein design with directed evolution for creating new enzymes.
This is sad. ID proponents have long tried to claim that the fact that humans design things somehow validates “magic man done it” as a scientific explanation. But now they’re actually pointing to human design as though it somehow demonstrates the validity of their psuedoscientific nonsense.
But I’m a fair man: I’ll make a deal with the ID folks. If they can secure an interview with
god their designer, so we can learn what techniques he used and what he designed. Better yet, they could suggest any mechanism by which the Intelligent Designer works. They could propose and attempt real, falsifiable experiments to test their “theory.” Any of this would work.
Somehow I suspect we’ll get more nonsense, lies and quote-mining instead.