Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ken Ham on the News

When one of the AiG gang claims that science undermines Christian morality, my response is that using lies to promote Christian morality is not only hypocritical, but worse is counter effective. This was recognized by Augustine of Hippo (St. Augustine) as well as Thomas Aquinas. When young people are lied to (the Earth is 6000 years old, there were humans and dinosaurs together on the Ark, even that there was a Noah's Ark) they are more likely reject the entire Christian message.

Further, there are millions of Christians who see no conflict between evolution or any science and their faith. Ham and his gang are insisting scientists resolve this theological debate by suppressing science. Rather than a scientist and a fundamentalist debating this, the argument is between competing branches of co-religionists.

Finally, creationism does violate scripture in several ways.

Young Earth Creationism implies that the universe is an untrustworthy witness because the universe testifies without any reservation that the universe is 13.7 billion years old, and that the solar system is 4.55 billion years old, that dinosaurs and humans never lived together, and that there was no global flood in historic times or any other times.

Scripture insists that the creation is trustworthy, and is in fact a true witness to God. For example;

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)

Psalm 85:11 reads, “Truth springs from the earth; and righteousness looks down from heaven” (NASB). The Hebrew word for truth, emet, basically means “certainty and dependability.”

Addressing his three friends, Job challenges them: “Ask the animals, they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.” — Job 12:7-8.

The New Testament also reiterates this;

Mr. Ham and his ilk had better consider Romans 1:18-20 with more care;

18. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19. because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
20. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Ham and the other YECs refuse the evidence of the creation, and even of scripture to preserve their interpretation of the first few pages of the Genesis. If the creation does not fit their failed interpretation of these few pages they insist that the rest of the Bible must be rejected.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Berlinski's ignorance captured on film.

Creationists have attacked the concept of homology and the support it gives to evolutionary theory in two ways; they lie about what homology is, and they promolgate false examples and equally false counter-examples. Anatomical homology is not mere "similarity" of superfical appearance, it is deeper strcutural, genetic and development matching.

A recent example by intelligent design creationsts sponsored by the Discovery Institute has been posted on YouTube.

Discovery Institute produced video is based on the fictional account of evolution, "Icons of Evolution" written by the Reverend Dr. Dr. Jon Wells. David Berlinski's comments about homology, like all professional creationists I have ever encountered, are simply wrong, and probably lies. His main example of the marsupial carnivore the "Tasmanian wolf" (Marsupialia, Thylacinidae) are particularly wrong and misleading. He says, "Take the Australian (sic) wolf that except of the reproductive system, features a wide variety of organ systems that are absolutely homological to the North American Timber Wolf. But there is no evidence that these homological structures arose because some wolf at some time in the past - some proto wolf- decided to first migrate to Australia and then to migrate to North America. The evolutionary lines are completely distinct and yet we see a profound degree of homology. We see this throughout the animal kingdom."

Derlinski misleads viewers by implying homologies should not be apparent between marsupial mammals and placental mammals. Of course there should be- they are all mammals. But, he then makes the utterly false assertion that the marsupial "Tasmanian wolf" is more like the placental timber wolf. By any honest analysis, the opposum is more like, and more closely related to this Tasmanian carnivor than any placental mammal. Finally, Berlinski's remarks about a "proto wolf" migrating about the world are absurd and bear no relation to any science. He is presenting a strawman merely to distract. His biggest false hood he saved for the end, "... we see a profound degree of homology." Clearly Berlinski either does not know what a homology is, or he is utterly ignorant about marsupial thylacine, and and placental canid anatomy, or he is a liar.

I recommend this overview of thylacine natural history.
The scientific facts are in direct opposition to Berlinski's wolf comments, but he is in total agreement with the notorious creationist highschool text book, "Of Panda's and People." There (pg 1116-118, see also fig. 5-2, 1993 edition), the spurious similarity of the Tasmanian "wolf" and the North American grey wolf is used to dispute the fact that homology is a powerful piece of supporting evidence for common descent. In figure 5-2 of the 1993 edition of "Pandas" the caption reads,
"The skulls of a dog (A), a North American wolf (B), and a Tasmanian wolf (C). Notice that the skull of the North American wolf is somewhat similar to the dog's, which is said to be related to it, but nearly identical to the Tasmanian wolf, which is allegegly only distantly related to it."

Reading that tripe is submitting to brain pollution. First, let's dispose of the implication that dog and wolf skulls are only "somewhat similar." The truth is that every single bone and tooth of the wolf and domestic dog are identical except for scaling. The truth is that these species (or subspecies) are able to cross-breed although with reduced interfertiality. The domestic dog was introduced to the home range of the Tasmanian "wolf" as much as 20,000 years ago, and there is no evidence what so ever that they ever cross-bred, and there is nothing but scientific evidence that they could not. The fraud of "Of Pandas and People" is further exposed when the authors falsely claim that the Tasmanian "wolf" is "nearly identical" to the North American grey wolf. This is a lie. For a direct photographic comparison between the Tasmainian "wolf" and the North American grey wolf, take a look at this photo series on the Tasmanian "wolf" and the Grey wolf dental anatomy.

You can read another perspective of the gross errors of fact and interpretation regarding homology and evolution found in "Of Pandas and People," and parroted by Berlinski at the National Center for Science Education.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The American Enteprise (soft neo-facist) Institute

The AEI held a recent circle-jerk on the topic of "Darwinism and Conservatism: Friends or Foes? My partial responcse follows:

As I listened along,

Hayward missed the obvious- evolutionary theory is the nearest thing we have to a “proven” theory. There are no competing propositions which can simultaneously account for the mass of data from all of the historical sciences; astronomy/cosmology, geology, paleontology, biology, anthropology. “Darwinism” has been proclaimed as the source for both “left” and “right” extreme social policies with equal (that is none) validity. (I gave up listening to his BS after about 3 minutes).

Arnhart is particularly absurd: conservatism is “liberty and order, freedom and virtue”

“the left assumes human nature is so malleable, so perfectable that it can be shaped in almost any direction. In responce to that conservatives object that in fact social order arrises not from rational planning but from the spontanious order of instincts and habit.”

“Darwinian biology sustains conservative social thought by showing how spontanious order arrises from social instincts and a moral sense shaped by genetic evolution and
expresed by cultural evolution.”

West's argument reduces to Darwinism=leftist thought=utpoianism=eugenics=racism=Nazi Holocaust

“conservatives see humans as naturally imperfect in their knowledge and their virtue.” ORIGINAL SIN ANYONE? But Intelligent Design isn't creationism- oh no, never that!

“conervatives really do believe that human beings do have a natural moral sense that supports ordered liberty as secured by the social order of family life, the economic order of private property, and the political order of limited government.”

“There really is a universal human nature constituted by at least 20 natural desires that manifest themselves in every human society throughout history because those desires belong to the evolved nature of the human species”

Arnhart claims that “Darwinianism” holds that; “Men and women will marry and form families, mothers will care for their children, young males will compete for mates and status, societies will organize themselves into male dominance hierarchies, competing societies will go to war, and humans will use language and symbols to try to figure out what it all means.” He then argues that these “darwinian desires” plus the remainder of the unstated “at least 20” equate to “conservatism.”

By the time I got to the second of his “Five Propositions” I was too revolted to keep
taking notes.

John West is even worse than Arnhart. I liked reading Kurt Vonnegut but I certainly
know of no reason to care about his rejection (according to West) of human evolution.

Marx and Freud have been “debunked?” About like the majority of Tyco Brahe’s astronomy has been debunked. That is, the parts of Marx’s economic theory that were irrefutable are now core ideas of modern economics. Freud’s concept of psychosocial development, and innate biological drives is still the foundation for modern psychology, and his “talking therapy” is still the standard of non-chemical psychotherapy. These are facts regardless of whether or not one agrees only a little, or not at all with Marxist or Freudians.

West next bloviates that among the secular elite, Darwin is “a secular saint.” He states that Dawinists have, “clothed themselves in the mantel of modern science successfully stigmatizing those who criticize then as bigoted Bible thumpers who are antiscience. The greatest critics of “Darwin” are what creationists like West call Darwinsts. The weak ass criticisms promoted by creationists are merely echoes- typically decades out of date- to criticisms first posed by real scientists. The difference being that scientists correct the errors of current theory they discover while creationists merely sit back and cackle about how “gawddidit.”

About 3 minutes of West and I am in need of a rest- and beer.

West rejects the concepts of theistic evolution, probably the most common concept held by a Christian or Jew, and equates this with "atheism." Then he states that it is perhaps possible that a form of "modest Darwinism" could be rephrased so as not to be "harmful," but, "then it no longer would be Darwinian." West objects to conservatives offering "idiosyncratic deffinitions" of Darwinism and then has nothing to offer but his hideously obsessive formulation of as "science as evil" opposed to moral universals which he extends to the defence of capitalism.

According to West, Darwinism inevitably promotes "relativism and utopian social reforms such as eugenics" West objects that if behavior is subject to selective pressure, Darwinists find "it is hard to see an objectve ground to condemning any particular behavior found in nature." West next links "Darwinism" to infanticide. He claims that "monogamy is natural, but then so are polygamy, adultry and even rape." (insert biblical examples here)!

Biological desires, in support of conservatism, must be "normnative." "If one believes that natural desires have been implanted in human beings by intelligent design or even that the represent irreducible and unchanging truths inherant in the universe (somehthing ala sort of a modern Platoism) it would certainly be rational to accept those desires as a grounding for a universal code of morality."

West waxed wroth that under a Darwinian framework when conditions of survival change human behaviors change (35:32). TURNBULL The Mountain People, the Donner party, the ultimate rebuke of West's absolutist moralizing is the greater propensity for religious fanatics to promote murder and even suicide. The Jones Town massacre had a goodly number of associated homicides, the Heaven's Gate episode show how easily religious mania leads to death. We read every single day about the suicide bombins in Iraq prompted by the religious ferver of the conservative movement's millennialists electing George W. Bush, and the murderus religious mania they unleashed.

I need another break.