Observations and inanities by a second-shift assistant supervisor in the Puppy-Grinding division of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy® (our motto: "Sure it's cruel, but think of the jobs!"), your host, Brent Rasmussen.
Our old friends the Christian Underground have gone even further around the bend. Edward F Blick, PhD who bills himself as a "Emeritus Professor of Engineering, Univ. of Oklahoma" has written a whining, puling screed disguised as a humorous op/ed piece that manages to mention every bad creationist argument, every Discovery Institute talking point I've ever heard, all in the same article.
Well, he left out the moon dust argument. Thank Darwin for small favors.
This person sounds like a lunatic. I can only speculate that it is because he's a lunatic. I mean, after all, who else would be associated with the Christian "You Big, Meany Secular 10% Quit Picking On Us Poor, Defenseless Christian 90% 'Minority', Wahh-Wahh" Underground? Here's a taste:
[link] The Darwinists have a well-oiled propaganda machine to keep their true goals hidden from the taxpayers who pay their salaries. They have web sites set up to deflect criticism of evolution and to further their legislative and judicial goals, which are to kill God and elevate humanism to His throne.
More below the flip...
How many times have you heard some IDiot start a sentence this way? It makes me laugh every time. I came across it again today while reading about the proposed elective course called "Philosophy Of Design" that is going to be taught by a soccer coach in the California town of Lebec in the Tehachapi mountains. (Tip of the ballcap to PZ, of course.) Apparently the course will consist entirely of playing videos from the ICR and other ID propaganda mills.
Heh. The public in Lebec were even told that the course was "to help students apply critical thinking to questions about evolution and Intelligent Design". Hehehe... Funny stuff. Propaganda videos from the wack-jobs at the ICR are now considered training for "critical thinking". It's a perfect illustration of how the ID movement co-opts "scientific sounding" words and phrases, then regurgitates them to the public in order to dazzle them with bullshit.
Charles Pierce has a nice piece of work on creationism and why he thinks it's become acceptable to even argue about it here, by way of aric @ templeofpolemic. Here's the first bit:
"Esquire" Lays the Smackdown on Creationism
Post by aric on Oct 24, 2005, 12:01am
Greetings from Idiot America
by Charles Pierce
Nov 01 '05
There is some undeniable art you might even say design in the way southern Ohio rolls itself into northern Kentucky. The hills build gently under you as you leave the interstate. The roads narrow beneath a cool and thickening canopy as they wind through the leafy outer precincts of Hebron a small Kentucky town named, as it happens, for the place near Jerusalem where the Bible tells us that David was anointed the king of the Israelites. This resulted in great literature and no little bloodshed, which is the case with a great deal of Scripture.
At the top of the hill, just past the Idlewild Concrete plant, there is an unfinished wall with an unfinished gate in the middle of it. Happy, smiling people are trickling in through the gate this fine morning, one minivan at a time. They park in whatever shade they can find, which is not much. It's hot as hell this morning.
For those of you keeping tabs on the ID Vs Evolution case in Dover, I recommend Ed Brayton's Dispatches From the Culture Wars. The latest installment underscores the jaw-dropping guile employed by IDC star-witness Michael Behe. Behe and others whine that IDC is not given a fair hearing at the scientific table because scientists are somehow engaged in a conspiracy against the idea, a conspiracy it is often implied, rooted in atheism. Which makes little sense, as both atheistic and theistic scientists reject Intelligent Design Creationism as formulated by the Forces of Ignorance, mostly nurtured in today's GOP. Although to be fair, the dems are also generally as spineless as a jellyfish in this regard.
Great editorial in Florida Today on Intelligent Design:
[Link] Just as Florida's Sunshine State Standards for science are set to be revised next year, Gov. Jeb Bush has appointed a Department of Education official, Cheri Yecke, with a history of trying to undermine the validity of evolution. Yecke is now Florida's chancellor for kindergarten through 12th grade. But as Minnesota's education commissioner, she drew criticism for trying to introduce creationism -- the biblical version of life's origins -- into that state's science curriculum.
James Curtsinger is a Minnesota University professor in the department of ecology, evolution and behavior. And he's not PZ! (Yes, I know, it surprised the hell out of me too that there are other Minnesota professors out there who are critical of ID. Heh.)
He has written an great take-down of Dr. Michael Behe's "irreducible complexity" claptrap for the Minnesota Daily opinion page.
[link] While youâ€™re at PubMed, try searching for "bacterial flagella secretion." One of the resulting papers, by SI Aizawa (2001), reports that some nasty bacteria possess a molecular pump, called a type III secretion system, or TTSS, that injects toxins across cell membranes.
Much to Dr. Behe's distress, the TTSS is a subset of the bacterial flagellum. Thatâ€™s right, a part of the supposedly irreducible bacterial "outboard motor" has a biological function!
When I asked Dr. Behe about this at lunch he got a bit testy, but acknowledged that the claim is correct (I have witnesses). He added that the bacterial flagellum is still irreducibly complex in the sense that the subset does not function as a flagellum.
His response might seem like a minor concession, but is very significant. The old meaning of irreducible complexity was, "It doesnâ€™t have any function when a part is removed." Evidently, the new meaning of irreducible complexity is "It doesnâ€™t have the same function when a part is removed.".
Excellent article, well worth the read.
If you're planning on visiting Florida, here's something local political bloggers and Florida Citizens for Science already know, but you may not: We're not just pack'n concealed heat with the official OK to start blasting away down here, we're loaded to bear with double-barreled, political hypocrisy. But every dark cloud of Republican Duplicity has a silver lining, right? And this wrinkle suggests a potential wedge issue that just might leave the Pugs all over the nation twisting in the wind, torn between their two most cherished bounties: The votes of social conservatives and that sweet corporate cash.
First some background. Renowned science writer Carl Zimmer penned this subtle takedown outlining one of many increasingly split-brain attempts to feed both the ravenous winger base and the demanding business community. The gist of it is this:
The failed engineer, Doug Kern, at Tech Central Station is at it again. He says to put your money on I.D. as a sure bet. What happens when it "wins" he does not have a clue.
Why Intelligent Design Is Going to Win
1) ID will win because it's a religion-friendly, conservative-friendly, red-state kind of theory, and no one will lose money betting on the success of red-state theories in the next fifty to one hundred years.
2) ID will win because the pro-Darwin crowd is acting like a bunch of losers.
3) ID will win because it can be reconciled with any advance that takes place in biology, whereas Darwinism cannot yield even an inch of ground to ID.
4) ID will win because it can piggyback on the growth of information theory, which will attract the best minds in the world over the next fifty years.
5) ID will win because ID assumes that man will find design in life -- and, as the mind of man is hard-wired to detect design, man will likely find what he seeks.
A washed-up engineer telling us that information theory will carry I.D. Is that the best water-carrier that the wingnuts at TCS can dream up? Not much of a farm system they have there.
Editor's Note: Back in September I wrote a post called "The Continent Angel Theory Of Plate Tectonics" wherein I took a Christian columnist by the name of Lane Palmer to task for his poor understanding of evolution. Later, Lane himself popped up in the comments, a little hurt by my article. Eventually, I invited Lane to "do his homework" and if he did, then I would front-page his first UTI article. Well, here it is. Lane seems to be asking these questions in a serious light, so I figure it's our job to educate him a bit on the subject. Thanks, Lane, for writing this, and many congratulations on the new twins! I hope we can get a good discussion going here.
OK- since this entire issue stemmed from my contention that ID should be taught as an alternative theory alongside evolution, I thought it might be best for me to start this exchange by looking at the "icons", if you will, that undergird evolution. The following material is NOT my own original thought and is a summary of what I have been taught and gathered from various web sites: answersingenesis.com, gotquestions.org, etc.
The following "evidence for evolution" can be found in any biology textbook in any public school in the United States of America. Accompanying each supposed evidence for evolution is a brief explanation (ex) and the standard criticism (crit) with references.
For those of you interested in the comedic court battle between flat earthers and science in Dover, PA: The ACLU of Pennsylvania has a daily update on their blog, whereas creationis ... err Intelligent Design Creationist Jonathan Witt of the Discovery Institute (Witt DKos background is here) has his own version of events on his blog--nope, no comments allowed there.
One important issue here is whether or not the action proposed by the Dover ISD passes the so-called Lemon Test formulated by Chief Justice Warren Burger in the majority opinion in Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971). That test was used to strike down old fashioned creationism in EDWARDS, GOVERNOR OF La, ET AL. v. AGUILLARD ET AL in 1987, thus setting the all important case precedent.
Here's a link . Once again a school board is trying to put ID into their schools. This one seems fairly innocuous. A school official will come into the class before evolution is taught and inform the students that evolution is just a theory and that there are other theories as to the origin of the species. He will then tell them that there is a book in the school library that covers intelligent design. The actual "material" of ID will not be covered in the classroom.
In my opinion this is just as bad as teaching ID directly to the students in the science class for all of the same reasons that have been enumerated in the countless discussions that we've had on what is, and is not, science.
It will be interesting to see what the courts decision will be in the coming month or so.
NPR's "On the Media" had a segment about the difficulty of fairly portraying science-vs.-pseudoscience debates -- how to not legitimize the non-science position while still covering the story. I think they got the science right in this piece at least, and showed and understanding of the problems of reporting about pseudo-science:
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So months ago on this show we had on the editor of Scientific American, John Rennie.
DAVID KESTENBAUM: Mmm-hmm.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And he said that journalists make a fetish out of balance. In other words, if a source says X, reporters will inevitably get somebody else to say Y. And Rennie believes that this is very often inappropriate when applied to stories about science.
DAVID KESTENBAUM: Well, I think we agree with that. I mean, if you take something like climate change, I think in stories what you'll hear is that the vast majority of scientists believe that humans are changing the climate and causing the planet to get warmer. And then the story might say something like there are some people who do disagree with that, and here's one of them. But you're trying to set the scale of both sides. One of the things I really like about covering science is that, you know, there is an answer. It's not like politics where anybody's opinion may have some merit. Any question that can be posed scientifically is something that can be tested and can be proven right or wrong.
Just in case the Democratic Orthodoxy hasn't figured it out yet, Florida is a key political battleground and one they're losing. And, as if I didn't have to live under enough shame and misery already as a resident in the state that twice put the Brother's Shrub in the Oval Office and the Governor's Mansion:
[Link]: August 29, 2005--Education Commissioner John L. Winn today appointed Cheri Yecke, Ph.D., as the new Florida K- 12 Chancellor. Yecke replaces former Chancellor James Warford, who stepped down last month. She will assume the role of Chancellor the first week in October.
What does this mean you ask? Join me below the jump ...
What you want to do is get to the evidence, eventually. My post this morning concerns tactics.
I think the Evolution Vs Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC) spectacle is a fruitful training ground for those of you who wish to learn to debate in general, and especially those of you who wish to debate Neo-right wing religious extremists specifically. You learn the ins and outs of debate and deception, you pick up on their tactics and how to thwart them, you'll learn a hell of a lot of science, and if you screw up it's only a friendly science discussion; were not talking about torture or distractive wars or serious assaults on liberty here. Likewise, if you win, you've taught someone who is vulnerable to those who pray on sincere faith, that the neo-right is not to be trusted. And I say "Eff the Creationists!"
Graphic Language Warning
Alvin Plantinga is a world-renowned Christian theologian and philosopher. Unfortunately, Plantinga's ability to think deep thoughts about religion does not seem to transfer over into the biological sciences. A case in point are his recent comments about evolution and "chance".
[link] Problems arise, according to Plantinga, when "scientists and others take evolution to be a process that is wholly unguided and driven by chance, so that it is simply a matter of chance that rational creatures like us exist. This is not compatible with Christian belief, according to which God has intentionally created us human beings in His own image. He may have done so by using a process of evolution, but it isn't by chance that we exist."
This is a basic mistake that many non-scientists make with regard to evolution. This mistake assumes that the word "chance" is being used by scientists in it's colloquial or "common usage" meaning, when it's not. Genetic changes are not "accidental" and they are not unique. They are not chaotic or disorganized, and they are not at all like a thoroughly shuffled deck of cards.
It just doesn't work that way.
Wow! I know that I'm an important part of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy® (our motto: "We Don't Exist. Move Along."), working day and night in the dank steaming pits of the Puppy Grinding division (our motto: "Sure It's Cruel, But Think Of The Jobs!"), but I had no idea that I could become part of a super-secret cabal of evilutionists who are actively suppressing the findings of hard-working ID scientists and the incontrovertible evidence supporting Intelligent Design!
Renew America's super-Christian columnist Fred "ID is based on DEISM, not Christianity - yet" Hutchison has the shocking truth!
[link] Recurring statement of evolutionists: "There is no evidence to support intelligent design and no evidence that challenges evolution." Truth: Such a statement can only be made by a liar, or one who has never read what the intelligent design scientists are saying. Evolutionists get away with the big lie tactic by suppressing the works of intelligent design scientists.
Where do I sign up!
For my first post on UTI I thought I'd just point to a poignant article on The Onion.
Headline is as follows:
Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory.
Gary Nelson, a columnist for the Arizona Republic, is an old-earth creationist. That is to say that he believes that our universe was set in motion, or created, by an intelligence of some sort. (I suspect that he would probably say "God" was the intelligence behind it, if pushed, but maybe he has been Touched by His Noodly Appendage. Who knows?)
However, Gary's reasoning is off-base, to say the least.
This was my answer to an interview question, posted in full (with non-religious questions) at Tales to Astonish.
Why did you give up on Religion/religion?
God told me to.
Just kidding! There is no God.
I gave up on religion because...well, I'd be lying if I said that I was ever a true believer in the first place. I was raised a catholic boy in a catholic town, and my whole family is catholic, and all my friends were catholic, and heck, even my priest was catholic. I went to Sunday school (CCD for those in the know) growing up, and made it all the way through being a fully confirmed catholic lad. And, throughout the entire thing, I really, really wanted to believe -- I mean that. I was taught that you had to believe, and I truly did my best, up until I started asking questions about my faith. I will go on record saying that I remember the people involved in my classes as some of the nicest, sweetest, most well-intentioned people I knew, so it wasn't that my experience there was hard, or trying, or negative in any way. It was a really good experience, and I enjoyed most of it. There was a problem, though...
Carl Zimmer shows us Charles Darwin as a human being - and incidentally destroys those arguments which attempt to link his theories and hypotheses about evolution and common descent with "Social Darwinism" and the "might makes right" wackos. Premium writing from the author of the new book "Evolution".
[link] In 1849 three of the Darwin girls, Henrietta, Elizabeth, and Anne suffered bouts of scarlet fever. While Henrietta and Elizabeth recovered, nine-year old Anne remained weak. She was Darwin's favorite, always throwing her arms around his neck and kissing him. Through 1850 Anne's health still did not rebound. She would vomit sometimes, making Darwin worry that "she inherits I fear with grief, my wretched digestion." The heredity that Darwin saw shaping all of nature was now claiming his own daughter.
In the spring 1851 Anne came down with the flu, and Darwin decided to take her to Malvern, the town where he had gotten his own water-cure. He left her there with the family nurse and his doctor. But soon after, she developed a fever and Darwin rushed back to Malvern alone. Emma could not come because she was pregnant again and just a few weeks away from giving birth to a ninth child.
When Darwin arrived in Anne's room in Malvern, he collapsed on a couch. The sight of his ill daughter was awful enough, but the camphor and ammonia in the air reminded him of his nightmarish medical school days in Edinburgh, when he watched children operated on without anesthesia. For a week--Easter week, no less--he watched her fail, vomiting green fluids. He wrote agonizing letters to Emma. "Sometimes Dr. G. exclaims she will get through the struggle; then, I see, he doubts.--Oh my own it is very bitter indeed."
Anne died on April 23, 1851. "God bless her," Charles wrote to Emma. "We must be more & more to each other my dear wife."