Fistians and Fuzzy Illogic

Fundamentalist Christians have taken to calling themselves Evangelical Christians because "fundamentalism" excites deservedly negative sentiments. The name may have changed, but the problems remain the same.

I have decided to refer to rigid, right-wing, bigoted, Biblical literalist creationists as Fistians. These are the Christians who give Christianity a bad name because of their unJesusian lack of compassion and their obstinate ignorance in opposition to knowledge. (I considered coining the term Fustians, which does have the advantage of rhyming appropriately with "fusty". I opted to rhyme with Christians and with "fist". I reserve 'fundamentalists' for anti-modernist movements in various religions. Besottism refers to a subset of zealots.)

Fistians and pseudointellectual advocates of intelligent design creationism share the religiosity-motivated credulity that typifies LAME thinking in the Misinformation Explosion Age.

David Colquhoun addresses this problem of intellectual dishonesty and fuzzy illogic in a Guardian Unlimited article entitled the age of endarkenment.

The past 30 years or so have been an age of endarkenment. It has been a period in which truth ceased to matter very much, and dogma and irrationality became once more respectable.
Colquhoun is author of the Improbable Science blog in which he expands upon his exposition of the reasons that we should be concerned about the "New Credulity.":

This matters when people delude themselves into believing that we could be endangered at 45 minutes' notice by non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

It matters when reputable accountants delude themselves into thinking that Enron-style accounting is acceptable. It matters when people are deluded into thinking that they will be rewarded in paradise for killing themselves and others. It matters when bishops attribute floods to a deity whose evident vengefulness and malevolence leave one reeling. And it matters when science teachers start to believe that the Earth was created 6,000 years ago.

In my opinion, the root causes of this problem of fashionable ignorance lies in a number of failures:
● the failure of educational systems to teach critical thinking skills and to instil a love of learning and truth-seeking.
● the failure of the media to make it clear which competing position is valid, rather than boosting ratings by pumping up the volume on issues that supposedly have no clear right side and wrong side.
● the failure of experts to insist that expert knowledge should not be discarded simply because it is opposed by a vociferous, jeering, ignorant rabble of the religiously motivated.
● the failure of those in power – such as Giorgio Dubaya Bush – to eschew endorsement of religiously motivated ignorance.
● the failure of polite liberals to vigorously point out the deluded and deceptive content of creationist pseudoscience, misinformation, and unfounded attacks on scientific knowledge.
● the resultant failure of the lay public to doubt popular bandwagons and to realize that they must be cautious about what or whom to believe in this Misinformation Explosion Age.

And, very difficult or impossible to remedy:
● the failure of religious organizations to ensure that their ministers are well educated and not highly prejudiced (theological colleges are devoted to teaching apologetic deceptiveness).
● the failure of political organizations to ensure that those ministries that are tax exempt are not the religions that preach hatred, lies, and intolerance.
● the failure of search engines, websites providers, and publishers to assess the value of content (for example, search engines can determine whether a site is contaminated by spam and phishing, yet do not provide warning that content is false or unreliable.)

Because peer pressure is not confined to teenagers, the public, as Madison Avenue well knows, will respond to that side of an argument that is presented flashily, passionately, repeatedly, and with the appearance of certainty.

The public, particularly that in America, has been deluged with messages from religion, which is treated with dare-not-criticize protection. As a result, America ranks alongside Iraq in its level of religiosity despite its position as the standard population (IQ=100) against which IQ scores are standardized.

However, the price paid for holding religious belief sacrosanct (if you will excuse the pun) includes the confusion of students, the deterioration of educational standards, and the near demise of critical thinking, knowledge, and rationality.

Most people reduce their efforts to the minimum necessary to meet expectations. So, if we permit continued dumbing down of standards and lowering of educational expectations so as to protect self-esteem, intellectual standards will fall still further. So long as we present the implicit and explicit message that truth does not matter and that every opinion counts, we will maintain the ever decreasing standards.

In nations that value education and intellectuals, politicians who live down to the "average guy" image are not elected to the most powerful executive positions. As the world has recognized with disdain, Giorgio, purchased Ivy League degree or not, would not have appealed to voters. More particularly, he would not have appealed a second time to voters were they able to detect executive deceptions.

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Taking the Ricky

Creationism with Ricky Gervais

Creationist Dictionary for Dummies

Excerpts from the definitive Creationist Dictionary for Dummies:

Apologetics: concocting fancy excuses for the reality that there is no evidence for any deities.

Belief: mental state that is equivalent to knowledge if 1. the Bible says it's TRUE, 2. enough fellow believers agree that it is true.

Cognitive Dissonance: an uncomfortable feeling that arises when creationists are faced with facts and logic; a feeling that elicits classic creationist coping strategies.

Coping Strategy (Creationism): see entries for crealogic, creation science, critical thinking, education, evidence, PROOF, theory, or invent your own.

Crealogical: see entry for Logic (Creationism)

Creation science: science fiction for those who literally swallow godidit myths

Critical thinking: negative thoughts about any unwelcome idea

Education: anything regurgiquoted from AiG or a similar website

Educational Qualifications (Creationism): anything that can be purchased online, or claimed to have been attained, without a requirement for learning (similar items can be purchased by online ministers).

Educational Qualifications (Science): something to be approached with derision or incredulity.

Evidence (Creationism): anything taken, or invented, to supports one's favourite belief.

Evidence (Science): something that must be denied, derided, or twisted to creationist purposes.

Faith: creationism must be RIGHT because lots of fools believe in it.

Falsification: 1. declaring ad nauseam that unwelcome facts are WRONG, 2. inventing misinformation for the sake of making an illogical argument against a scientist, evolutionist, or atheist, 3. Lie-orama.

Godidit (also Goddidit): of course He did!

Knowledge: any strongly held belief, regardless of intrinsic truth value.

Lie-Orama: expensive falsifications that depict dinosaurs cavorting with humans.

Logic: 1. quoting cherry-picked scriptures, 2. regurgiquoting misinformation, 3. resorting to fallacies of logic, particularly in emotional arguments.

Logical argument (Creationism): using creationist logic (aka crealogic) and making irrelevant, negative remarks about the holder of any unwelcome idea.

Logical argument (atheism, science): dangerous, faith-testing arguments from generally better-educated evolutionists, scientists, and atheists.


Refutation of creationism: something that must be ignored, or denied, at all costs.

Theory: the latest desperate creationist invention that is intended to deny reality.

© Creations for Literalists

Unpaid Advertisement: see our new apologetics publication Applied Fallacies of Logic, the definitive aid for those occasions when trolling, false flagging, and votebotting are just not enough.

Another Unpaid Advertisement: MacLiar's Guide to Disreputable Colleges and Universities, the definitive guide to unaccredited purveyors of false qualifications or should-not-be-accredited religion-affiliated institutions of lower learning.

Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism

There are so many falsehoods in creationism that AronRa speaks very, very quickly. Not a dull moment.

My God, creationists are STUPID

God of the Gaps pens Misleading Pseudoscience for Dummies, an allegorical text that scores Z- in science.
(Blasphemy is a victimless "crime". Besides, I enjoy it!)

I mean it. Creationist are not only ignorant, but they are arrogant about it. I say this because they flaunt their ignorance and crow about their deluded, uninformed beliefs as though this is a cause of pride. To assume that one knows more than the experts is arrogance in my book.

Ooops, I'm forgetting that the Bible is the supreme science textbook. Never mind that its metaphysics has been soundly and repeatedly falsified.

I shall be eternally [joking] grateful to Bishop Ussher for providing a falsifiable date for the biblical "age" of the Earth, and by extension of the universe.

Creationists either lie or propagate falsehoods told by other creationists. They either do not know the facts or they deny them. They are not only illogical, but they often contradict themselves within a few sentences. If their pronouncements are challenged, they invent "information". Again, frequently contradicting what they said prior to the challenge.

They do all of this within the context of poor grammar, and bad spelling. Not to mention CAPS, which make them RIGHT.

Here's a fool ranting about the universe. I particularly enjoyed this one because of the hilarious malapropism. The fool can't even accurately name what he is denying.

"They are starting to piss me off,they earth is not billions or millions of years old.They have no proof that the big band theory is true,but they teach it like it really happened."

(That's fair. Creationists piss me off. Have done for a long time.)

Um, it's the Big Bang, not a mega-orchestra.

Yes, the Earth is about 4.7 billion years old (judging by meteorites). The oldest known rocks are over 4 billion years old.

No, radioactive decay does not lie, and no, geologists do not use radiocarbon dating to determine the age of the Earth. (Our planet is far too old for this method to be applicable.)

Um, scientific hypotheses attempt to best explain observable facts. If hypotheses survive falsification, they graduate to being termed theories. This means that scientific theories follow upon something that actually happened.

What more could one expect from someone who equates the rapid inflation of spacetime to a very large collection of brass, wood, strings, and hot air? Or did he mean a huge collection of guitarists accompanied by drummers and amplified to deafening levels? Hence the bang? Either way, I'm willing to bet that he'd also deny cosmic microwave background radiation, even though he's undoubtedly heard that.


Behe Retreats

Michael J. Behe, populariser of pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo for credulous creationists.The sole contribution of intelligent [sick] design creationism advocate, biochemist Michael Behe comprises the scientifically refuted notion that a multicomponent functional system could not have arisen by "Darwinian" evolution.

In essence, Behe argued that because removal of any component would render the system non-functional, such a system could not be produced by continuously improving the initial function (which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system (p.39 of Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution).

Behe's books, of course, appeal to those who know very little science and who are passionately committed to belief in special creation, particularly the disguised creationism passed off as "intelligent design theory". In the July 1 New York Times, evolutionist and atheist evangelist Richard Dawkins reviews Michael Behe’s new book, The Edge of Evolution. Dawkins points out that Behe has been forced to retreat from insistence upon "irreducible complexity" to further bad science and inaccuracies. He refers to Jerry Coyne's more detailed critique of the scientific distortions that Behe has resorted to in his desperation.

Michael Behe's illogical arguments for intelligent [sick] design theory are such an embarrassment that Lehigh University has placed a disclaimer on their Department of Biological Sciences website:

"The sole dissenter from this position, Prof. Michael Behe, is a well-known proponent of "intelligent design." While we respect Prof. Behe's right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific."

One can only imagine that if Behe had not already had tenure when he began publishing religious pseudoscience, then the university would have sent him packing to knock on the doors of that infamous junk tank, the misnamed Discovery Institute.

In The New Republic, Professor Jerry Coyne has published a good critique of Behe's retreat from disproven "irreducible complexity" into attributing mutations to God's intervention. The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism is Behe's feeble attempt to conjure up creationist pseudoscience for credulous dummies.

Sites Elsewhere : Panda's Thumb An Open Letter to Dr. Michael Behe, An Open Letter to Dr. Michael Behe (Part 2) ERV Michael Behe, please allow me to introduce myself..., Hello again, Michael Behe! Science After Sunclipse Chu-Carroll on Behe’s The Edge of Evolution

Reducible Illogic

ID-advocate Michael Behe caught in own illogical, scientifically discredited trap.The sole contribution of intelligent [sick] design creationism advocate, biochemist Michael Behe consists of the scientifically refuted notion that a multicomponent functional system could not have arisen by "Darwinian" evolution.

In essence, Behe argues that because removal of any component will render the system non-functional, such a system could not be produced by continuously improving the initial function (which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system (p.39 of Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution).

Behe targetted several complex systems as purportedly providing support for this flawed proposal: evolution of the eye, clotting cascades and complement system, and the bacterial flagellum.

This fanciful creationist sleight of hand sold popular pseudoscience books to the determinedly ignorant, but there are major problems with Michael Behe's contrived challenge of 'irreducible complexity'.

First, the implicit assumption that the components of currently functional system have 'always and only' performed the function that they currently display. The most obvious illustration of this flaw lies in an examination of Behe's designed-for-the-scientifically-ignorant analogy of a spring-based mouse trap. All the components of a spring-based mouse trap can be found, in modified forms, functioning in a variety of settings. It is only the assemblage of these modified forms within a mouse trap that renders each a necessary component of the trap's function. That is, already existing components have been slightly modified then assembled into a simple mechanism. This is exactly how biological evolution operates – mutations generate modifications and successful mutations are retained, so even Behe's analogy demonstrates that which he sought to refute. (Intelligent design devotees seem incapable of grasping the point that analogies are useful in explanatory descriptions, but that fallacious arguments from analogy are rapidly invalidated as arguments aimed at attacking scientific facts.)

Second, research in medical genetics has uncovered mechanisms that explain 'reducible' complexity.

Third, research has demonstrated that assembly of pre-existing modifications operate in subsequently evolved features. Science provides innumerable examples of similar adaptive employment of mutation-coded-proteins that result from pre-existing gene segments.

Behe's ridiculous make-room-for-design (aka God) was refuted before Behe even concocted it! Even if evolutionary biologists were never able to reconstruct the mutational route to specific biological features, such a failure could not be taken to demonstrate Behe's pull-a-miracle-out-of-the-hat illogical claims. Behe may be a protein biochemist, but he is clearly not a logician because his entire argument placed faulty science on a fallacy of logic – argumentum ad ignorantiam.

Inherited epigenetic variation--revisiting soft inheritance..
Phenotypic variation is traditionally parsed into components that are directed by genetic and environmental variation. The line between these two components is blurred by inherited epigenetic variation, which is potentially sensitive to environmental inputs. Chromatin and DNA methylation-based mechanisms mediate a semi-independent epigenetic inheritance system at the interface between genetic control and the environment. Should the existence of inherited epigenetic variation alter our thinking about evolutionary change?Richards EJ. Inherited epigenetic variation--revisiting soft inheritance. Nat Rev Genet. 2006 May;7(5):395-401.

Insights into the spliceosome suggest new explanations for generating biological complexity. modified, hyperlinks inserted:While politicians debate whether evolution occurs, scientists are busy debating how it occurs. . . .there are more ways than previously thought to achieve the impressive complexity characteristic of humans. Many organisms — including humans — evolve in part by using a complex mechanism by which strands of RNA are spliced together in a two-step process, and delicate balancing of the way this process is executed can generate an enormous number of new gene products, providing a vast reservoir of material for selection during evolution. . . between the “important” coding sections of RNA lie non-coding patches — introns — and as RNA is made it’s the job of a cellular machine called the spliceosome to chop the introns out and splice the rest of the coding sections back together. . . the two steps in this process require the spliceosome to change its shape, flipping back and forth between two distinct conformations. . . Changes in the balance between these two states — referred to as equilibrium — will cause the spliceosome to dwell longer in one conformation at the cost of the other, improving one of the two steps of splicing, to the detriment of the other step. Mutations either in spliceosomal components or in the intron RNA strands can change how the RNA and the spliceosome interact with one another and thus affect the equilibrium. . . there are an abundance of mutated intron splice sites in human DNA, also called alternative splice sites. . . when the equilibrium of the spliceosome is changed — either because the mutated splice sites interact with it differently or because other accessory molecules bind to the spliceosome — they can be recognized and spliced. The utilization of alternative splice sites allows for different combinations of coding RNA sequences to be put together, so that one RNA transcript can make a variety of different products, each with a potentially different function. This explains why, when the human genome was first sequenced, relatively few genes were found. . . This has allowed our genome to develop in complexity.”Molecular Cell 21(4): 543-553 (February 17, 2006)

Lenski et al have demonstrated that complex features can evolve by expanding earlier, simpler functions, and that an intermediate stage is not necessary for this evolution. Thus, they have demonstrated how to reconstruct a complete evolutionary history of a complex genetically encoded function. Their computations vindicate Darwin's idea that the target of natural selection constantly changes, and that the complex feature of today may share very little with the original function. Darwin wrote, "if we look to an organ common to all the members of a large class in order to discover the early transitional grades through which the organ has passed, we should have to look to very ancient ancestral forms, long since become extinct."

The work of Lenski et al and the experiments of Bridgham et al (below) demonstrate that Behe's contrived challenge to Darwinian evolution, namely "irreducible complexity", is not a valid criticism of the mechanisms of evolution. The two groups have demonstrated that complex systems can evolve and lend disproof to the claim that complex systems must have been designed.

The evolutionary origin of complex features.
A long-standing challenge to evolutionary theory has been whether it can explain the origin of complex organismal features. We examined this issue using digital organisms--computer programs that self-replicate, mutate, compete and evolve. Populations of digital organisms often evolved the ability to perform complex logic functions requiring the coordinated execution of many genomic instructions. Complex functions evolved by building on simpler functions that had evolved earlier, provided that these were also selectively favoured. However, no particular intermediate stage was essential for evolving complex functions. The first genotypes able to perform complex functions differed from their non-performing parents by only one or two mutations, but differed from the ancestor by many mutations that were also crucial to the new functions. In some cases, mutations that were deleterious when they appeared served as stepping-stones in the evolution of complex features. These findings show how complex functions can originate by random mutation and natural selection.
Lenski RE, Ofria C, Pennock RT, Adami C. The evolutionary origin of complex features. Nature. 2003 May 8;423(6936):139-44.

Lock before Key: Entrez PubMed: "According to Darwinian theory, complexity evolves by a stepwise process of elaboration and optimization under natural selection. Biological systems composed of tightly integrated parts seem to challenge this view, because it is not obvious how any element's function can be selected for unless the partners with which it interacts are already present. Here we demonstrate how an integrated molecular system-the specific functional interaction between the steroid hormone aldosterone and its partner the mineralocorticoid receptor-evolved by a stepwise Darwinian process. Using ancestral gene resurrection, we show that, long before the hormone evolved, the receptor's affinity for aldosterone was present as a structural by-product of its partnership with chemically similar, more ancient ligands. Introducing two amino acid changes into the ancestral sequence recapitulates the evolution of present-day receptor specificity. Our results indicate that tight interactions can evolve by molecular exploitation-recruitment of an older molecule, previously constrained for a different role, into a new functional complex."

Bridgham JT, Carroll SM, Thornton JW. Evolution of hormone-receptor complexity by molecular exploitation. Science. 2006 Apr 7;312(5770):97-101.Comment in: Science. 2006 Apr 7;312(5770):61-3.

See also : Complexity Reductio, Behe Retreats, and Dawkins refutes Behe.

Canadians Can be Stupid Too

It's embarrassing.

Alberta is home to Canada's oil boom, a dinosaur lagerstatte, and Bible Belt Idiots.

In the poky little town of Big Valley, a couple of creationist nincompoops have wasted $300,000 on Canada's answer to Ham's Idiocy.

In ungrammatical, deceitful displays, the museum's co-owners claim to demonstrate that the Flood occurred (misinterpreted glacial erratics) but that evolution did not (the notorious and discredited bacterial flagellum). Copying Ham's propaganda, the museum duplicitously claims that dinosaurs were contemporaneous with humans.

(Sure, if you wish to acknowledge that birds are the modern descendents of therapod dinosaurs. Their "terrible lizard" relatives died out ~65 million years ago.)

Back to the museum. Needless to say, this Canadian example of creationist nonsense is arousing detractors from amongst the intelligentsia. And the merely educated, for that matter.

Every such example of Lies-for-God merely serves to underline the errancy of the Bible.

CBC Archives digital video clip A Canadian home for creationism.

From a creationist who is homeschooling her children (presumably to protect them from knowledge):

"The evidence has been proven against evolution."

It did not surprise me that she does not comprehend that evidence demonstrates something, strictly does not prove anything other than its own existence, and that one does not 'prove evidence'. Other than that, she is completely incorrect. The evidence demonstrates the fact of biological evolution. It happened. The evidence falsifies the metaphysical claims in Genesis.

From an unconvinced university student:

"As a student, as a free-thinker, it's important to be open-minded. And see both sides of the story without actually subscribing to one or the other."

He got the first sentence right. With respect to creationism versus evolution, he flunked in his second sentence. It is actually important for students to learn critical thinking. It is essential to to learn to detect when claims are based on lack of evidence, or on distortion of evidence. It is vital to recognize when scientific theories are supported by empirical data, and are internally consistent within the body of current knowledge. Accepted theories have repeatedly withstood attempts at falsification. Those theories that were falsified become part of the history of science, just as myths that are no longer accepted become part of mythology. Indoctrinated myths that are still widely believed are protected by their undeserved inclusion in theology.

Not only is the Bible not a science text, it is not backed by archaeological evidence, and nor are any of the supposedly historical events independently supported by contemporary writers.

Cartoons attacking Creationism

Creationism is not science, creationism is not logical, creationism does not seek truths about operation of the real world. With the rise of the Religious Wrong, creationism reared its ugly, Biblical literalist head, in an attack on science and science education. Creationism deserves ridicule, and a humorous display of anti-creationism cartoons can be found here. It's well worth a look, though creationists are warned that they are unlikely to see any humor in these lampoons.

Creationism only flourishes amidst Ignorance

I found the following example of ignorance amongst the comments on an article about the museum-of-delusion constructed by oxymoronically labelled Answers in Genesis. Those who are so ignorant as to believe in creationism are not really interested in answers, but I want to vent!

"To all of those evolutionists out there: Can you tell me ONE instance of an organism that proves that NEW information was ADDED to its DNA? NOT a LOSS of genetic info that leads to an environmental advantage, but an actual ADDITION of NEW information to the DNA?"

First, there can be no proof outside special philosophical syllogisms and mathematics. Only the ignorant or emotionally-uncertain demand proof. However, there is abundant evidence, throughout organisms from prokaryotes to humans of the addition/alteration of segments of DNA. There is so much evidence that one could not list it all. See for yourself – running a PubMed search for "DNA evolution" yielded 53983 hits (5/27/07). Of course, not all of these scientific articles will directly address this creationist challenge, so I Googled "DNA evolution" and got 47,100,000 hits. Some of these will be websites set up by creationists as ignorant as the author of that stupid question, but many will provide an accurate answer.

Creationist are correct in stating that DNA contains information, so any alteration of a DNA sequence, even if it is only a single nucleotide polymorphism (point mutation), comprises evidence of the addition of new information to DNA. To ask for "proof" of the addition of new information to DNA is beyond ridiculous. The most obvious examples of increased information include duplications and other mutations, and the intergenerational persistence of such new alleles and elimination of alleles. Any organism that develops a malignancy does so because of mutational alterations in DNA. Childrens' DNA is not identical to that of either parent because of chromosomal recombination of the DNA inherited from each parent. The diversity of DNA, which is demonstrably currently continuing to evolve, is evidence of addition of information to DNA. No need to go on–there are billions of examples.

"Answers in Genesis' website explains that this is the big obstacle for evolutionary belief. What mechanism could possibly have added all the extra genetic information required to change a one-celled creature into a multicelled organism, then other more "complex" organisms?"

This, of course, is why Answers in Genesis is misnamed. (There are no accurate answers to questions in Genesis, which was, is, and always will be an allegorical creation myth. Nor are there any answers in AiG–merely delusions.)

Again, science has documented abundant evidence regarding mechanisms, which include prokaryotic gene-swapping mechanisms (HGT), serial endosymbiotic transfers, and a variety of internal-mutation mechanisms (duplication, etc.). The very first soft-bodied multicellular organisms died without leaving any fossil trace around 1 billion years ago. It is utterly unreasonable to expect that this step in evolution can ever be exactly replicated. However, the molecular biological mechanisms of cellular adhesion that exist today were likely the same mechanisms that allowed the first co-operative assemblages of specialized cells (the colonial theory providing the likeliest explanation). Serial endosymbiotic transfers rendered this step possible, and the oxygen produced by the first prokaryotes to practice oxygenic photosynthesis both drove and enabled such assemblages.

"Natural selection can’t explain it as natural selection involves getting rid of information."

Natural selection operates to increase the frequency of favourable alleles and reduce unfavourable alleles in populations. The amount of information is much the same following selection for the organisms best equipped to survive and produce viable progeny within a particular environment. Only utterly unfavourable mutations will be removed, while neutral and favourable mutations will persist. Natural selection has never been regarded as a mechanism for the alteration of DNA itself.

"A group of animals might become more adapted to the heat by the elimination of those which carry the genetic information to make thick fur. But that doesn’t explain the origin of the information to make thick or thin fur."

Nor, as above, do any evolutionary biologists claim that natural selection, which can only operate on already existent alleles, is the mechanism for producing the genes.

"As a Biological Sciences major in college . . . "

Now this is truly very sad! This poser-of-stupid-questions is better educated than your average creationist, yet clearly does not comprehend even the basics of molecular or population genetics. This sort of ignorance is the reason that critics decry anti-science, deceptive-pseudoscience displays that merely entrench such ignorance.

"I was also disappointed and angry to discover that several of the big "evidences" for evoution given to us in school were NOT true, and that these are still taught to students today as truth."

Where did this person attend college? Presumably a small southern college and not one of the better universities. The above is a truly ridiculous statement. Evidence is evidence is evidence. Scientific theories are formulated on the basis of evidence, which translates to saying that scientific theories begin with the facts. The evidences for biological evolution are FACTS. Whether or not a particular theory best explains the facts is a different question, and this is the entire point of the scientific method.

"It is time students were taught all the facts about evolution, not just the ones that fit the THEORY best! I pray the AiG museum will open a lot of eyes to the deception carried on by the biologists promoting evolution."

The voluminous facts about biological evolution are conveniently ignored by those who believe in creation, in biblical literacy, and in some non-existent necessary-connection between morality and religious dogmatism. The author of the ridiculous comment that I have quoted is clearly incapable of comprehending the facts. As to manipulating information to fit theories, the AiG museum is a transparent example of the sort of distortion of facts that is necessary in order to support an utterly ridiculous two- thousand-plus-year old theory (YEC). Although they do not admit this explicitly, creationist attacks on science implicitly indicate that they are aware that scientific facts disprove the claims in Genesis–proof may not be possible, but disproof is possible. Genesis IS disproven. Dinosaurs did not coexist with hominids, rather the dinosaurs predated hominids by 60 million years. No number of deceptive lie-orama displays will ever alter that fact.

I'd further suggest to the author of the stupid-question that his or her inability to understand something does not render that thing invalid. It merely means that he or she really ought to obtain some education. Given that an ABC News poll indicates that "60 percent of Americans believe God created the world in six days" (a fallacious argumentum ad numerum argument for creationism, incidentally), then it is clear that far too may Americans exhibit a lamentably low standard of science education.

Debunking apologetics:
Theological Apologetics
å Assailing the Ineffable
å Aristotle's Prime Mover
å Avicenna first mover
å Aquinas' arguments
å Cosmological Arguments
å Kalām cosmological argument
å Leibnizian Principle of Sufficient Reason
å Plato's First Mover
å Teleological Arguments

Emotional Apologetics
å Demands for Proof
å Desperate Measures
å What's Wrong with Religious Apologetics?
å When All Else Fails

History of Religion
å From UPA to Ineffable

More mutterings about the stupidity that is creationism:

å Anthropic Apologetics
å Anti-IDiocy resources
å Behe Retreats
å Complexity Reductio
å Dawkins refutes Behe
å Debunking IDiocy
å If there were a God
å Jones' Kitzmiller vs Dover decision
å Ken Miller on Collapse of Intelligent Design
å Not So-Hidden IDiot Agendas
å Panstupidity and Jumbo-Mumbo
å Reducible Illogic
å Regressive God
å Tick Tock
å Un-designed Intelligences
å Wedge Document
å What's intelligent . . . ?

Creationism / Religiosity
å Agnostic vs Atheist
å Agnosticism is NOT more rational than Atheism
å Anti-Stupidity Quotes
å Battle to Regress
å Besottism
å Canadians Can be Stupid Too
å Complexity Reductio
å Confidence and Ignorance
å Creationism only flourishes amidst Ignorance
å Declaration of Independent Thinking
å Dei Non Existent
å Delusion inversely correlated with FLQ
å Expulsions
å Furor over Stupidity
å From UPA to Ineffable `
å God, what god?
å In God, Distrust
å Inverse Correlations
å Moral Absolutism
å Myths Revered and Myths Exposed
å One Evolution, Many Creationisms
å Pseudoscience Chicanery
å Religionists Behaving Badly
å Rigidity and Religiosity
å Spirituality, Religiosity, and Madness
å Statistics on Ignorance
å Wedge Document
å YEC yack

Elsewhere: Gallup Poll on Evolution, which reveals that the overwhelming majority of religious fundamentalists are ignorant of evolution : comment on Pharyngula : Religion—our maelstrom of ignorance: "Maybe we need to start picketing fundamentalist churches. Maybe it's about time that we recognize religious miseducation as child abuse."

Panstupidity and Jumbo-Mumbo

Christopher Hitchens used (coined?) this delightful variant of "mumbo-jumbo" to denigrate Fred Hoyle's ridiculous panspermia argument that abiogenesis by chemical evolution is "as likely as a tornado sweeping through a junkyard and spontaneously assembling a Boeing 747 airplane".

Specifically, Hoyle asked:

A junkyard contains all the bits and pieces of a Boeing 747, dismembered and in disarray. A whirlwind happens to blow through the yard. What is the chance that after its passage a fully assembled 747, ready to fly, will be found standing there?*

Considering the clever twist for which his Jumbo-assembly, junky analogy set his argument up, Hoyle, who sarcastically coined the term "Big Bang", was doubly ridiculous in this irrelevant misrepresentation of the probabilistic realities of chemical evolution of life (biopoiesis).

Of course, chemicals actually self-assembled in accordance with simple, still operational, chemical reactions over an extensive period.

Although Hoyle presented the jumbo-junk argument to promote the notion of panspermia, intelligent-design creationists have eagerly misapplied this jumbo-mumbo as an argument against biological evolution by natural selection. Hoyle's remarks are particularly popular to creationists because they also provide for a fallacious appeal to authority based on Hoyle's reported atheism. The creationist fallacious appeal to authority runs: Hoyle was a brilliant atheist and he said something useful to the cause of creationist delusions.

Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe concocted the panspermia (exogenesis) theory to counter theories of chemical evolution of life (abiogenesis), and were responsible for another idiotic statement much loved by creationists:

"No matter how large an environment considers, life cannot have had a random beginning. Troops of monkeys thundering away at random on typewriters could not produce the words of Shakespeare, for the practical reason that the whole observable universe is not large enough to contain the necessary monkey hordes, the necessary typewriters, and certainly the waste paper baskets required for the deposition of wrong attempts. The same is true for living material."

Hitchen's response to the jumbo-junk argument:

"We know the answer in all cases: these were painstaking inventions (also by trial and error) of mankind, and were the the work of many hands, and are still "evolving." This is what makes piffle out of the ignorant creationist sneer, which compares evolution to a whirlwind blowing through a junkyard of parts and coming up with a mumbo jet. For a start, there are no "parts" lying around waiting to be assembled. For another thing, the process of acquisition and discarding of "parts" (most especially wings) is as far from a whirlwind as could conceivably be. The time involved is more like that of a glacier than a storm. For still another thing, jumbo jets are not riddled with nonworking or superfluous "parts" lamely inherited from less successful aircraft. Why have we agreed so easily to call this exploded old nontheory by its cunningly chosen new disguise of "intelligent design"? There is nothing at all "intelligent" about it. It is the same old mumbo-jumbo (or in this instance, jumbo-mumbo)." ¬ Christopher Hitchens, god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, McClelland & Stewart, Toronto (2007), pp 85-87.

* F. Hoyle, The Intelligent Universe, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, New York (1983), p. 18.

For a video of a thought experiment that demonstrates that clock components could indeed self-assemble into clocks, provided only that they could mutate and undergo natural selection, see Tick Tock.

Elsewhere: Are IDiots Creationists?

Atheist Genius...DEBUNKED!

, , , , , , panspermia, Fred Hoyle, Chandra Wickramasinghe,

More Food for Unthought

The creationists have something else to denyDarwinius masillae.

Ida is a beautifully preserved, 47 million yr-old, almost complete, transitional primate fossil from the Eocene.

Undoubtedly, this will prove upsetting to those who resort to challenging taunts of "give me proof", but who, in their eternal love affair with argumentum ad ignorantiam, deny all evidence presented.

Having thus exhibited their profound self-obsessed bias toward obdurate ignorance, creationists will almost certainly proceed on to whining that we atheists are "mean" to them for noting that they are more often less "bright" than atheists.

Why are they?

We are almost all raised within one religious tradition or another. Those who think rationally about the utter lack of evidence are more likely to deconvert than are those who do not think critically.

The IQ discrepancy would be even greater were it not for the fact that some individuals adopt atheistic attitudes for purely emotional reasons.

Since creationists repeatedly, publically demonstrate their poverty of logic, lack of education, or blatant intellectual dishonesty, they have no reasonable grounds for accusations of unfair labelling as being less intellectual than most atheists. End of story.

I make no apologies for the fact that I do not respect ill-founded, prejudiced, opinions that reflect an obsession with personal salvation, but which are typically accompanied by hypocritically anti-social attitudes.

People are entitled to their own opinions only in so far as it is impossible to alter the opinions of a person who is immune to evidence and logic. That is, the reality is that we are stuck with religiously-motivated ignorance. This does not mean that we must afford unwarranted respect to stubborn manifestations of a cognitive disorder. In fact, I think that we should not even feign respect for ignorant, biased opinions. Society can no longer afford to mollycoddle stupid ideas.

This is not to say that believers should be personally disrespected. It is to say that their uninformed notions should be refuted. Even though creationists almost never admit, let alone see, that they have been refuted, bystanders might benefit from having light shone on someone else's cognitive errors.

Ida: official website . Darwinius masillae . Poor, poor Ida, Or: "Overselling an Adapid" . Darwinius masillae - The Panda's Thumb . Introducing Darwinius masillae . wiki .

Franzen JL, Gingerich PD, Habersetzer J, Hurum JH, von Koenigswald W, Smith BH (2009) Complete Primate Skeleton from the Middle Eocene of Messel in Germany: Morphology and Paleobiology.

PLoS ONE 4(5): e5723. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005723. abstract .

Furor over Stupidity

Poster for Inherit the Wind -- America has not progressed very far since the Scopes Monkey Trial.It's high time that scientists and the educated organize against attempts by the dogmatically ignorant to undermine education in America. AiG's deceptive junk-tank monument to stupidity, aka the Creation Museum, has squandered $27 million in order to promote their LIES against scientific fact.

YECs appear not to be a particularly bright group, so it seems unlikely that many budding geniuses are being misled into ignorance. However, this is no reason not to decry the damage done to average children by causing deliberate confusion about science and reality.

The Founding Fathers were wise to separate Religion and the State, though not necessarily for prescient reasons. Whether or not they foresaw the likelihood that organized stupidity would attempt to undermine education, the Constitution should be used to protect education from superstition and ignorance. The mere fact of "scientists'" having signed a document against Darwinism demonstrates the desecration of science, critical thinking, and logic wrought by religious dogmatists. Polls indicate that far too high a percentage of Americans are so ignorant of the facts on which scientific theories are based that they hold a strict creationist view of origins.

Modern politicians, concerned more for their political ambitions than for truth, are all too aware of the vocal agitators who sway religious dogmatists on voting day, so they abrogate their responsibility to uphold the Constitution. To make matters worse, the most stupid president ever not-to-actually-be-elected resorts to claims of communication with God. It's intriguing to ponder how America came to be a nation that largely reviles knowledge while protecting organized stupidity. America has not come very far since 1925!

Statement of Concern
"We, the undersigned scientists at universities and colleges in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana, are concerned about scientifically inaccurate materials at the Answers in Genesis museum. Students who accept this material as scientifically valid are unlikely to succeed in science courses at the college level. These students will need remedial instruction in the nature of science, as well as in the specific areas of science misrepresented by Answers in Genesis."

National Center for Science Education petition:

"One of the petitions, started by the Campaign to Defend the Constitution, a Washington, D.C., group that focuses on church and state issues, says the museum is part of a "campaign by the religious right to inject creationist teachings into science education."'

Campaign to Defend the Constitution:

Elsewhere: Gallup Poll on Evolution, which reveals that the overwhelming majority of religious fundamentalists are ignorant of the fact of biological evolution : comment on Pharyngula : Religion—our maelstrom of ignorance: "Maybe we need to start picketing fundamentalist churches. Maybe it's about time that we recognize religious miseducation as child abuse."

Dickovery Institute

I have been irritated by the IDiotic agenda of the Dickovery Institute^ since I first learned of its lies.

Since the proponents of IDiocy conduct no scientific research, we can only conclude that it is fitting that so many of their number are lawyers, rather than scientists. Indeed, IDiocy's pet biochemist, the little-published* Michael Behe, is clearly an embarrassment to Lehigh University.

Judging by their output, it appears that DI's full-time scientific staff devote themselves solely to scouring the scientific literature for material so carelessly worded as to be useful for quote mining.

^ I continue to refuse to provide authority-conferring links to the websites of those with an agenda of which I strongly disapprove. It's fine to ridicule their egregious misinformation, but don't boost them further up search-engine rankings! I was horrified when a search for "evolution" placed creationist liars at the top.

* In peer-reviewed scientific journals, that is. Having sold books containing deceitful distortions to credulous sheep is scarcely an "achievement" that confers bragging rights. Publishers, after all, care only about profits and not about accuracy of content.

The Chief Enemy of Reason

Why do religionists cling to the myth that many manifestations of the physical – human consciousness, for example – necessarily include a non-physical component?

The most obvious explanation is that these individuals fail to comprehend the mechanism of an activity that, unlike muscular activity, is not clearly experientially linked to the physical. Such failure to comprehend relies upon deliberately ignoring well known facts – anaesthetics reversibly eliminate consciousness, head injury can permanently eliminate consciousness, e.t.c. Even religionists are acquainted with these facts – they simply refuse to interpret them correctly.

That is, the more prevalent mechanism of collective-refusal-to-comprehend is to be explained by prescribed ignorance – deliberate ignorance that is intended to protect the myth of supernatural intervention.

As soon as a supposed supernatural entity has interacted with the physical, then that purported supernatural agent has entered the realm of the physical and has abandoned supernatural status. Those religions that include creation myths necessarily make a claim that the supernatural has interfered with the physical. How else could the physical have arisen through any agency? This creation-interaction must, by definition, reduce, or elevate, the supernatural to the physical. Goodbye special supernatural status. Goodbye deities. Goodbye special creation. Goodbye the comfort of being in love with a myth. Goodbye an eternity of loving reward for being delusional.

Religion is the chief enemy of reason.

Jones' Kitzmiller vs Dover decision

Evolution wins Pennsylvania trial-Judge declares intelligent design is creationism in disguise:

A federal judge has ruled that teaching intelligent design in US public high schools is unconstitutional.

On 20 December, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Judge John Jones issued a scathing opinion in which he described a local school board's efforts to promote intelligent design as 'breathtaking inanity'.

Rather than just throwing out the policy because of the religious motivations of the school board members who instituted it, Jones went on to state that intelligent design was clearly religious and indubitably not science.

"We conclude that the religious nature of intelligent design would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child," he writes.

In his 139-page opinion, Jones reviews the history of intelligent design. He declares: "The overwhelming evidence at trial established that intelligent design is a religious view, a mere re-labelling of creationism, and not a scientific theory."

The decision will not have legal precedence for similar cases in other districts, but because of the thoroughness of the opinion, it may have what lawyers term "persuasive authority". The ruling bans the reading of the Dover statement, which was due to go ahead next month at the beginning of the ninth-grade evolution unit.

The school board that wrote the policy has since been voted out, and their replacements are unlikely to appeal.

Biologists who testified in the case were even more ecstatic. "I think it is everything we could have hoped for," says Kenneth Miller, a biologist at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. "The opinion is splendid. What is very clear is that the judge worked hard, diligently followed the scientific arguments, and understood them thoroughly."

"The whole place here is saying that this is beyond our wildest dreams," says Kevin Padian, a palaeontologist and trial witness from the University of California, Berkeley, speaking from Harrisburg. "This means that as science, intelligent design is effectively dead."

Nick Matzke of the National Center for Science Education, a non-profit organization in California that guards the teaching of evolution in public schools, says that intelligent design, under any name, is hard to squelch. "The history of creationism is that it doesn't go extinct... it evolves," he says. "We fully expect that they will come up with a new strategy.""

Full text of Judge Jones' Opinion

Playlist Judgement Day - Intelligent Design on Trial. PBS online video of Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial. Well worth watching.

eSkeptic Kitzmiller et al versus Dover Area School District

"This is a stunning blow against Intelligent Design and creationism, but we are not surprised by it given how the trial unfolded."

Here's a pdf version of Ken Miller's reasonable response to criticism of a biology textbook that he coauthored. The now-defeated Dover schoolboard first attempted to block purchase of this high school level text, and, failing that, to supplement the scientific text with a cdesign proponentist fantasy.

Whiney Candyasses

I borrowed the post title from a line in Private Benjamin, where a fellow recruit tells Goldie Hawn's character, "I never met such a whiney candyass as you."

IDiots parade illogical arguments from analogy that they have borrowed from a 200 year-old failed argument from design. And IDiots are whiney candyasses, who even make slick movies about the rejection of their pseudoscience by bona fide scientists.

Despite collecting contributions from their credulous groupies for more than ten years, IDiots have conducted no scientific research in support of supposedly-scientific IDiocy and have not published any articles that advance scientific knowledge in reputable, peer-reviewed journals.

They publish only on websites and blogs, where they manipulate and misrepresent information in illogical, polemicist rants. Even their mascot biochemist, Michael Behe has not produced one piece of scientific research into his now largely abandoned, repeatedly disproven fantasy of "irreducible complexity". Behe has published another book of deceptive pseudoscience for his creationist audience, so he is presumably content with royalties from his latest sci fi opus in lieu of research to demonstrate God's hand in evolution.

Front cover of the October 2001 edition of Scientific American that ran Gonzalez's article.One of the latest whines about rejection? Iowa State University decided, as is its right, not to extend tenure to creationist, Dr Guillermo Gonzalez. Universities decide not to offer tenure to many legitimate 'rookie' scientists. Like any good self-styled victim, Guillermo is fighting the decision on grounds of supposed religious discrimination. "I was surprised and a little depressed. . . I almost decided not to turn in an appeal, but several friends convinced me to do so. This might have precedent, so it was important for me to go through it for the sake of others who might go through this in the future." One imagines that the "friends" were probably Fellows of the misnamed Discovery Institute, which has happily taken up the cause with affronted protestations of prejudiced victimization.

Promachoteuthis sulcus (I'm sure PZ won't mind) seems an apt image for the mouthpiece of ID tentacles.DI, CSC, ISCID, Evolution News & Views, Evolution is Dead, Uncommon Descent, and crony Denyse O'Leary's several proliferations are all arms of the same creationist octopus (excuse the insult to cephalopods), so the same unit is whining on multiple websites, as though this makes the message any more truthful. Bill Dembski, on Uncommon Descent goes so far as to accuse Scientific American of conspiring against poor Guillermo, claiming that this article (Refuges for Life in a Hostile Universe) is missing. For a more accurate accounting, professor of religion at ISU, Dr Hector Avalos has provided background details to PZ at Pharyngula.

When they are not whining thus, IDiots conduct lucrative lecture tours where they plagiarize the product of legitimate science, pass it off as their own work, then make belated, weasely nonpologies when exposed.

IDiots have campaigned vociferously and manipulatively to damage the science education of America's high school students and to insinuate the teaching of religion in contravention of the Constitution. Despite court decisions against the illegal teaching of creationism in classrooms, creationist-loaded school boards and departments of education continue their pro-creation, anti-evolution witchhunts.

Why? It is a well-established fact that educated individuals who are first exposed to religious dogma in adulthood are unlikely to be deluded into belief. To ensure the perpetuation of religious delusion, it is essential to indoctrinate children.

Why attempt to ensure continuance of religious delusion? To maintain political power and to promote an unfounded beliefs that only religious delusion will ensure that people will obey narrow, bigoted moralistic edicts.

Only continued religious delusion will ensure that donations will continue to flow in the desired direction, ensuring continued employment for those who otherwise would be unable to secure a well-paid position in a marketplace that demands competence and intellectual productivity.

Articles : Publish and perish (Warning, Christian bias!)

Blog reactions : Bad Astronomy Blog » Silly creationists, Universities are for scientists, Bad Astronomy Blog » More opinions on ISU and Guillermo Gonzalez : Guillermo Gonzalez and Fake Persecution

IDiocy : Win Ben Stein's Funneh

...section index...

creationism, education, intelligent design, naturalism, religion, science, Expelled, Michael Behe,
William Dembski, Guillermo Gonzales,