Saturday, September 17, 2011

Beware False Piety

(Note added 18, Sept. As of this morning, all of the formerly blocked comments at the Juneau Express were put on-line in an al-at-once data dump. No explanation was made).

Someone named Charley Larson wrote a letter to the Juneau Empire news paper. As I often do, I responded to the newspaper’s public forum. By 16 Sept. 2011, I became so frustrated with the Juneau Empire comment policies (disappearing posts critical of creationism), that I decided to put the whole file up here at Stones and Bones.

I was nearly finished with Charley anyway.

You can read Charley’s letter at this link.

I’ll start with Charley Larson’s letter by detailing the errors and outright falsehoodsin the order they were made.

“the theory of evolution is absolutely a belief. It has never been proven”

First, for those of us who actually do science, in the field, or in the lab, evolution is not a ‘belief’ in the sense of a faith. I accept the reality of evolution just as I accept the reality of gravity. In fact, evolution is easier to understand than Einstein’s theory of gravity, and is better supported. The physics people are spending billions of tax dollars a year hoping to demonstrate the existence of the Higgs particle that might, if found, fill the gap between Einstein’s theory, and quantum mechanics following Niels Bohr.

We don’t need billions to confirm evolution because this was done long ago. We do still argue about the fine points, most of which would seem incoherent to a non-specialist. The two newest big research areas are in evolutionary developmental biology (old school “embryology” brought up-to-date with modern molecular biology), and epigenetics, the surprising discovery of non-genetic phyletic inheritance (really, the odd ways that the environment alters genetic expression)((Even the egg has an internal environment!)).

But, for most of Darwin’s theory that is still retained we only need to point out that new species have been documents emerging from old species. This “proves” evolution as well as falling off a cliff “proves” gravity. I have compiled a list of observed speciation events at “Stones and Bones: Emergence of New Species”

Charley next spouts we should all go see, “No Intelligence Allowed” by Ben Stein.
It is a movie about many scientists who, through their varying research into a diverse array of scientific fields, have found such complexity and variety in what they were researching (their scientific search for the truth) that they came to the conclusion that what they found simply could not be a result of time and/or chance.“
I have already posted a link to “Expelled Exposed,” the propaganda film was titled “Expelled” Here is the link again:

First thing to notice is that no scientist lost their jobs because they became creationists. The closest in “Expelled” was Guillermo Gonzalez. He became a creationist, and stopped writing grants, and never got his students to graduate. He lost his job. I was a professor, and IF I did not bring in the $$ from grants, and IF MY students couldn’t graduate, I would have lost my job too.

But the biggest fraud is that these twerps came to reject science because of their scientific research. They were all creationists first. In fact many went into science just to try and disprove the sciences. An example is Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Jonathan Wells. He admits that he was ordered to pursue a degree in biology by his “messiah” and “Lord” Rev. Sun Moon. Why? Well, in his own words, “that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism.” That is so unbiased and filled with the “search for truth,” don’t you think?

I am going to expand a bit on Charley’s rejection of “time and/or chance.” Creationists like to pretend (lie) that evolutionary science relies entirely on “time and/or chance,” or as they like to say “blind random chance.” We don’t

First we note that energy and matter have some very dependable, and limited behaviors. This is good because if energy and matter could act in any sort of random way, then literally nothing could exist. So, first of all, we scientists rely on the fact that energy and matter are not totally random. But, if energy and matter were too restricted, then life could not exist. Think about this as the difference between a snowflake and a protein; the snowflake is unique, and elaborate, but its ability to change and adapt to the environment is very limited. A protein is not at all unique, proteins vary greatly, but they have recognizable patterns across hundreds and thousands of different species. Proteins vary even within a single cell, and they are affected by the environment more than a snowflake. Snowflakes are not alive.

But, there are some strong “chance” features to the history of life on Earth. For example, is was not a “planned” event that sent a massive asteroid crashing into the Earth 65 million years ago leading to the extinction of millions of species. If it were not for evolution, all life would have ended long ago. But, evolution causes life to try to fill any available niche, from alpine lakes to super-salty lagoons, and mountain tops to the deepest sea trenches, ice fields to hot springs. Your body has three or four times more cells of bacteria, yeast, and fungi than “you.” And, they all have viruses of their own.

What evolution does not due is to plan in advance. In that sense, it is up to chance. But that is balanced by natural selection which is the opposite of chance.

Charley next claimed “While many of these scientists have not embraced the notion of a supreme, omnipotent God who created the universe, they do believe that the universe is not the result of chance but at the very least is the result of intelligent design.”

It is not true, Charley.

I already showed how Jon Wells’s first allegiance was to his ordained master, Rev. Sun Moon. But here are some more that the Intelligent Design Creationists have admitted;

Phillip Johnson
"This [the intelligent design movement] isn't really, and never has been, a debate about science, it's about religion and philosophy." World Magazine, 30 November 1996

"Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools." American Family Radio (10 January 2003)

William Dembski,
"Indeed, intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory." (“Signs of Intelligence,” 1999, Touchstone magazine).

"My thesis is that all disciplines find their completion in Christ and cannot be properly understood apart from Christ." William Dembski, 'Intelligent Design', p 206

“…but let’s admit that our aim, as proponents of intelligent design, is to beat naturalistic evolution, and the scientific materialism that undergirds it, back to the Stone Age. “DEALING WITH THE BACKLASH AGAINST INTELLIGENT DESIGN version 1.1, April 14, 2004”

Charley slings some more BS from “Expelled.” And again, these lies are all exposed at, “Expelled Exposed”

Some highlights are; Nobody was fired for their beliefs. Some people were not rehired after they refused to do their jobs. Go tell your boss that you don’t need to do your job because you “answer to a higher power.” Then whine about “discrimination” if you lose your job.

Charley described a scene from Expelled, “The very last scene in the movie has Stein interviewing Richard Dawkins, probably the best known atheist in the world. Under intensive questioning from Stein, Dawkins ultimately states he really doesn’t have a clue how life originated on Earth but then postulates that perhaps a super intelligent alien race from a far off planet came and planted life on Earth. This explanation makes far more sense than a creator we call God.”

Sorry Charley, that wasn’t the last scene. The last scene was Ben Stein talking to a faked audience at Pepperdine Bible University. The phony interview with Dawkins was a set-up. All the non-creationists interviewed were lied to by the production company. They were lied to about the title, goal, and funding of the movie. And the “intensive questioning” was faked. Did you notice Charley, that you never saw Stein and Dawkins through a whole question/answer series? And when Dawkins mentioned “intelligent aliens,” he was repeating an old Discovery Institute talking point that they didn’t specify that God was the Creator because it could have been intelligent aliens.

Additionally, the origin of life is logically, and factually separate from the origin of life. Even Darwin wrote in a 1871 letter to the botanist Joseph Hooker, "It is often said that all the conditions for the first production of a living organism are present, which could ever have been present. But if (and Oh! what a big if!) we could conceive in some warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity, etc., present, that a protein compound was chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes, at the present day such matter would be instantly devoured or absorbed, which would not have been the case before living creatures were formed. "

Later in the same letter, he observed,

"It is mere rubbish thinking at present of the origin of life; one might as well think of the origin of matter."

We do think today about the origin of matter, Cosmology, and the origin of life, Abiogenesis. I have compiled a short outline of recent research called, “A Short Outline of the Origin of life,” at;

Beware intellectual pride? Beware false sanctity.

Charley, ignorant of what science has discovered, and can hold as physical facts, the stones and bones that teach us the history and present state of the Earth, quotes to us the Bible. I’ll quote a bit for Charley who likes the Apostle Paul;

In Titus 1:14, Apostle Paul (or one his later followers) tells us to ignore Jewish fables. Wouldn't that mean much of the Pentateuch, if not all of Genesis? Elsewhere Paul wrote, Romans 7:6, “But now we are delivered from the Torah, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” Also: 2 Corinthans 3:6 "He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." This is an powerful rejection of bibliolatry and literalism. This is extended in Titus 3: 9, "But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Torah, for they are unprofitable and worthless."

But the earlier biblical sages also wrote regarding the physical creation as a testament.
Psalm 19:1 The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge. (New American Standard Bible)

More clearly, Psalm 85:11 reads, “Truth springs from the earth; and righteousness looks down from heaven.” The Hebrew word translated here as “truth,” emet, basically means “certainty and dependability.”

The certainty and dependability, the emet of the Earth is that it is ancient, and that life evolved.

For some readings from serious Christians, written largely for Christians struggling with the facts of science and their faith, I recommend reading;

Young, Davis A., Ralf F. Stearley
2008 "The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth" Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press

Miller, Keith B. (editor)
2003 “Perspectives on an Evolving Creation” Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing

Frye, Roland Mushat (editor)
1983 "Is God a Creationist?: The Religious Case Against Creation-Science" New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, Inc.

16 Sept. 2011

Charley says that, “I also take exception to Olson’s characterization of my Christian belief of creation as “folklore.”

There are several issues here. First, the Christian part of the Bible calls the creation story part of the Bible, "… foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Torah, for they are unprofitable and worthless" Titus 3: 9. There are also the many “Christian” traditions which are in fact borrowed folklore, Christmas for example. The flood story was adapted from older Sumerian, and Babylonian traditions. For a very good book on the origins of most of the creation accounts in the Bible, see;

Smith, Mark S.
2002 “The Early History of God 2nd ed.” Grand Rapids: Wm B Eerdmans Publishing

Charley argues that because his drug addiction was “cured” when he became ‘born again” that this lends credence to Christianity. There are of course billions of people in other religions who could make the same argument. And there are no doubt millions of drug, or alcohol abusers who have always been fervent believers in what ever religion they grew-up within. And, their addiction, or illness, or death should neither be used as a “proof” nor “denial” of the validity of any religion.

One last note, and I might be criticized as being insensitive, but Charley, Why in the world would I take the opinion of someone about the sciences who can only offer their 30 years of drugged stupor as a recommendation? Sorry Charley, I am glad you are sober, but don’t try to criticize sciences you know nothing about.


Anonymous said...

I recently asked a young earther if he'd ever counted the number of science disciplines he had to disparage to support his belief.

His answer, after I'd cited a half dozen, was mind boggling, he'd looked into all of them and found them wanting!

As for Charley, I suspect there's a class of creationists for whom no amount of explanation will suffice--they'll simply 'check' your words at the same creationist sites that misinformed them in the first place.

The emerging sparrow species reminds of a letter to the editor I penned, explaining to our resident nutter columnist that if he wanted to dispute whether archaeopteryx was transitional he'd have to learn something about skull, hip and tail structures. I added the science community would really be wowed if he also had an alternate, scientific explanation for teeth genes in modern birds.

His answer ? "Archie" couldn't be transitional because the different parts, birdy and reptilian, would require different foods, now wouldn't they ?

Sigh, wisht I'd known it was all so simple; I wouldn't have wasted so much time to actually learn some of this stuff!

Jeff in Texas

PS - I'm not a scientist, or even a college grad, just a layman who's done some reading.

Gary S. Hurd said...


I wonder what food group grows tails?

Anonymous said...

Well, cattails, for one, nya nya nya !