Thursday, March 24, 2016

I have been a bad, bad Blogger.

I have been writing, and lecturing. But I have not been posting. In part, there has been nothing new in the creationist twaddleverse to really get into for more than an hour or so.

But just today I came across a reason to post. The reason is an American Hindu creationist named Michael Mamas who posted a load of creatocrap on the Huffington Post "Science" blog.
One obvious problem is that Huffpost leads this as "Science."

I used a few hours responding. The text follows.

I am always interested by a tag line like, “How Darwinism and Creationism Can Peacefully Coexist.” And sucker that I am, I’ll typically read the copy. Only occasionally am I treated to such idiocy as this text from Mr. Mamas. Commonly, the word “Darwinism” is a good clue that the author has no clue.

His first major error is the idea that creationism is limited to the Christian believers in literal interpretations of Genesis. There are many varieties of creationists as seen below;

Spetner, Lee
1997 Not By Chance: Shattering the Modern Theory of Evolution.  New York: The Judaica Press

Harun Yahya (Adnan Okbar)
2007 "Atlas Of Creation" Istanbul: Global Publishing

Michael A Cremo, Richard L. Thompson
1998 "Forbidden Archeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race" Bhaktivedanta Book Publishing

Neo-pagan/Native American
Deloria, Vine Jr.
1997 “Red Earth, White Lies” Golden Colorado: Fulcrum Publishing

Some of the comments to this article make the same mistake. They also have neglected to do a simple Google search on Mr. Mamas, and his organization, “Mount Soma; The Center of Rational Spirituality.” He is in fact a sort of hybridized Hindu guru want-to-be.

He wrote, "Throughout history, numerous religions have held the belief that we are created in God’s image and that the birth of the universe was an act of divine creation. Over 100 years ago, Darwin challenged this age-old concept, declaring that species evolved from single cell organisms to sponges, lizards, apes, and ultimately to human beings through the process of natural selection. Scientists and theologians faced a huge rift."

Mr. Mamas’ errors also extend to the historical record. For example, Charles R. Darwin never addressed the origin of life, or the universe. In fact he wrote that attempting to address this was “mere rubbish.” He had observed to botanist Joseph Hooker, "It is mere rubbish thinking at present of the origin of life; one might as well think of the origin of matter." (29 Mar 1863). Darwin’s first edition of “Origin of Species” was published in 1859. In it he sought to avoid directly challenging a divine origin going so far as to write, "Authors of the highest eminence seem to be fully satisfied with the view that each species has been independently created. To my mind it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator, that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining the birth and death of the individual. When I view all beings not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Cambrian system was deposited, they seem to me to become ennobled." Note that he does think (correctly) that in Darwin’s time he and others thought life had descended, and elaborated from very simple ancestors.

Mr. Mamas is still wrong at the same by implying later that biologists still claim there are strictly linear descent lines. The simple Linnaean system of ordering species dated to the 1600s long before Darwin. It has been largely rejected for a generation. Still worse is his notion that Darwin created the situation that, “Scientists and theologians faced a huge rift.” The effort to avoid the obvious conflicts between experimental/empirical science and the thousands of religions dates at least to the 1600s. At most Darwin laid another log on superstition’s funeral pyre.

For the past century, Darwin’s theory has been the cornerstone of biological science. I adore the beauty of it, and certainly there is truth to it. However, it is important to note that a computer study of the theory concluded that it couldn’t possibly be right because the evolution of species happened much more quickly than the theory indicates.

Mr. Mamas launched into the absurd with the sentence, “However, it is important to note that a computer study of the theory concluded that it couldn’t possibly be right because the evolution of species happened much more quickly than the theory indicates.”

There are 4 gross errors. I was impressed.

1) A “computer study” does not “conclude” anything. Creationists like to use so-called “simulation models” to claim that genetic mutations promoted by natural selection are so rare that even with billions of years evolution could not happen. An example of this sham is Behe and Snoke (2004).

2) Alternately, creationists pretend to have computer models “proving” genetic mutations are so toxic that life could not have evolved. The current favorite example of this lie is “Mendel's Accountant” created by plant geneticist, and young earth creationist John Sanford (2001). (His collaborators are all also YECs).

There are creationist B.S. "computer programs" that falsely claim evolution is both too fast, and too slow. 

3) So where is Mr. Mamas get this lame idea that evolution “happened much more quickly than the theory indicates” ? I suspect he failed to grasp some basic understanding of Gould and Eldredge (1977). The offered no “computer study.” They noted that there were occasionally rapid expansions in the number of discernable species in what were geologically short (several million years) periods. What was later discovered was that these “blooms” were following massive extinction events. However, as young men, Steve Gould, and Niles Eldredge were sure that they had “overturned Darwin.”

4) Did Darwin ever demand that evolution must have been slow? That would certainly be a key fact to confirm. In fact, Darwin held (and published) that the pace of evolution could be variable. (Darwin, 1859, 1860)

Behe, Michael J., and David W. Snoke (2004) "Simulating evolution by gene duplication of protein features that require multiple amino acid residues." Protein Science 13, no. 10 : 2651-2664.

Sanford, John, John Baumgardner, Wes Brewer, Paul Gibson, and Walter ReMine (2001) “Mendel's Accountant: A biologically realistic forward-time population genetics program." Scalable Computing: Practice and Experience 8, no. 2 .

Gould, Stephen Jay, and Niles Eldredge (1977) "Punctuated equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered." Paleobiology 3, no. 02 : 115-151.

Darwin, C. (1859) “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” J. Murray, London, UK.

Darwin, C. (1860) “The Voyage of the Beagle” 1962 Natural History Library Edition. Doubleday and Co., Garden City, NY, USA.

Merging Darwin’s theory of natural selection with the unified field theory accounts for why there have been several examples of accelerated evolution throughout history. Where does that process end? The process culminates in a species that embodies the coherence, intelligence, harmony, and order inherent in the unified field itself. Think of the sandbox. You can keep running that vibration into the sandbox until ultimately a pattern on the surface of the sand becomes a full reflection of the intelligence in the vibration. The same is true for the process of the evolution of species.

Mr. Mamas proceeded to leave absurdity for psychosis by hallucinating a grand “unified field underlying all existence.” Merely dishonest is his assertion that this is something “Modern physicists agree” upon. But leaving this aside, he still managed additional major falsehoods in just two (short) paragraphs.
First, there is no “unified field theorem” in physics to merge with biology.

Second, there is a good reason for the observed “rapid” episodes of species radiations; they follow mass extinctions. Without competitors in a radically changed environment, evolution is allowed to run wild. The causes of mass extinction vary from gigantic sustained volcanic activity, asteroid impacts, both of these, and even by life itself. In the latter example, see the literature on the pre-Cambrian Great Oxidation Event. There is no need of a “unified field theory.”

Third, there is no theoretical support, or empirical support that “the evolution of those species was in a direction toward the coherence inherent in the unified field.” This is insane, or a conjob. We already dismissed the existence of a regulating “unified field theory.” (If you want a literature to read, Gross 2005, Hawking 1988, Krauss 2012, Susskind 2005, Woit 2006,  Stenger 2009).

Gross, David
2005 “The Quantum Structure of Space and Time: Proceedings of the 23rd Solvay Conference on Physics”  Ed. David Gross (Brussels: World Scientific Pub Co Inc)

Hawking, Stephen
1988 "A Brief History of Time" Bantam Books

Krauss, Lawrence
2012 “A Universe From Nothing” New York: Free Press

Stenger, V. J.
2009 “Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness” Prometheus Books.

Susskind, Leonard
2005 "The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design"  New York: Little and Brown Publishers

Woit, Peter
2006 "Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory" New York: Basic Books

That is to say, species evolved in a direction toward the image of God.

There are just two remaining errors outstanding for either their basic ignorance, or as gross frauds. Since Mr. Mamas sells enlightenment for a profession, we cannot exclude a PT Barnum inspired self-interest. This is the claim that, “Theologians think of the unified field as “God.” and, “… species evolved in a direction toward the image of God.”

The first is compounded that there is no “unified field,” and practicing theologians (members of the thousands of priesthoods) place their authority on direct Divine inspiration. The second I find the most amusing. 1), this notion that evolution is goal directed is in direct contradiction of evolutionary biology. 2) it is obvious that Mr. Mamas imagines we humans are in some “elevated” class of organisms nearer to the “image of God” than say a rat is. But rats are as ancient, and then some, as any primate clade. 3) slime mold are more ancient as our lineage. Are they the image of god(s). Maybe there is a special slime god? 4) no theologian I read has presented their god as a merely material being. They are usually some grand immaterial magic wielding thug. I doubt that is the direction we are headed. But as a long time Dungeons&Dragons fan, I am ready for my +3 vorpal blade to go toe to toe with bad guys.