Report on the 2005 Creation Mega Conference, Part Four

| 170 Comments

If you were beginning to fear that this series of posts was going to go on forever, then at least I will have recreated some of what I felt as I listened to the conference presentations. Seriously though, there will be two more installments after this one. Part five will deal mostly with Werner Gitt's talk, “In the Beginning Was Information,” while part six will focus mainly on Georgia Purdom's talk “The Intelligent Design Movement, How Intelligent is it?”

Monday, July 18. Afternoon.

Phillip Bell was one of the youngest speakers at the conference. He was a handsome fellow with an Australian accent. Unlike his fellow AiG'ers, he was plainly nervous. His subject was “Ape Men, Missing Links and the Bible.” He had the unpleasant task of having to explain away all of those highly suggestive hominid fossils that keep turning up on various African plains.

I was particularly interested in this talk. It wasn't that long agao that I was on the fence about this whole issue. For me, the various transitional fossils linking human beings to our ape-like ancestors were a particularly compelling piece of evidence in favor of evolution. As far as I was concerned, creationists had yet to come up with a remotely plausible reason for why I shouldn't draw the obvious conclusions from those fossils.

Well, they still haven't. Bell's talk was made up entirely of standard creationist boilerplate. All of those fossils were either “fully ape” or “fully human” Piltdown man was a hoax. Evolutionists will find a tooth or a toe and simply concoct an organism to go with it. There's great controversy about the evolutionary relationships among the various hominid fossils.

There was also the standard material about world views and interpretations of the evidence. He reiterated the standard imprecation ot allow the Bible to influence how you interpret the evidence. The Bible is quite clear that Adam was formed from the dust of the Earth (Gen. 2:7) and that he was the first man (1 Cor 15:45). Therefore we should not find any transitional forms between apes and humans. If we find something that appears to be transitional that's not evidence for evolution; it's evidence that we haven't properly discerned the importance of the particular fossil.

Thus, “Lucy” was just an ape and Neanderthal man was fully human. It's a familiar argument, but it won't wash. You can assign whatever label you want to a given fossil, but it's not going to change the fact that the fossils we have show a clear progression from hominids with mostly ape-like features through those that are more and more like modern humans.

Also making its appearance was the beloved creationist ploy of using quotations out of context. Thus we have a quote from Peter Bowler (reviewing a book by Hnery Gee) saying: “We cannot identify ancestors or missing links and we cannot devise testable hypotheses.” (Incidentally, this is one example of something I noticed in several of the talks. Namely, that rather than quoting a book directly, they would quote from some second-hand source like a review. Odd.) There was a quote from The New Scientist, from Bernard Wood, that seems to suggest that it is an illusion to think that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors. And another from the same article that goes, “Certainly the search for the missing link is doomed to failure.” Yet another from Henry Gee about evolutionary reconstructions requiring imagination and story telling. Still another to the effect that, “The more fossils we dig up, the less we know.” (Incidentally, to see how Jonathan Wells once made similar misuse of Henry Gee's writing, read my account of an ID conference available here.)

Now, I have not yet looked up the sources of these quotes for myself, but I can tell you what I am going to find. The illusion being referred to above was not the idea that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors, but rather that there was a smooth, linear progression from one hominid species to the next. The search for the missing link is doomed to failure because we would have no way of recognizing it even if it were staring us in the face. And it's very difficult to test statements of the form, “Fossil A is a direct ancestor of fossil B.” That's a far cry from saying that the plethora of hominid fossils somehow hurt the case for the descent of humans from ape-like ancestors.

Bell closed his talk with a truly bizarre statement. He summarized the fossil evidence as follows: There are thousands of hominid fossils, a statement he backed up by citing the Catalog of Fossil Hominids from the British Museum of Natural History. Then he said there are hundreds of human fossils. And there are numerous extinct ape fossils. But nothing in between!

But many of those hominid fossils are, indeed, “in between” in the sense he has in mind.

All in all, not a very convincing talk. However, feeling ornery, I decided to wait by the stage to ask him a few questions of my own. There was quite a large crowd around him, so I had to wait some time for my turn.

As I listened to the things other people were asking, I was struck by how foolish the organizers had been in not allowing a more public Q&A session. Most of the questions were so fawning and obsequious that the speakers could only have grown in stature by answering them. “Sir, you're smart, you're handsome, you're eloquent. If I worked really hard do you think I could be half the human being you are?” That sort of thing. At other talks I saw people posing for photographs with the speaker (at times thrusting their young children forward to be filmed with the speaker as well), others grabbed whatever scrap of paper they could find to collect an autograph. It seemed like many in the audience viewed the conference presenters as rock stars.

Partly because of where I was standing and partly because of my own nervousness, I was the last one to get to Mr. Bell. So it was just the two of us standing there. We had a very pleasant conversation.

I started by asking him about his closing statement, the one about the thousands of hominids and all that. I suggested that all of those hominds were, indeed, in between. His reply seemed to agree that that was the case, but then he went off about naming conventions and about how something he was calling Kenyanthropus was misnamed and on and on. So I tried again and asked, “But the issue is what did the British museum have in mind when they used the term hominid in their catalog? You offered hominid fossils as something separate from ape and human fossils. So what are they?” We were off to the races again.

I didn't want to press this point, since I was little unsure myself of what the technical definition of “hominid” was. So I went on to something else. I decided to ask him about some of the quotes he had plainly abused.

During the talk Hill implied that the search for the missing link was doomed to failure because it never existed. I pointed out that actually Wood's point was that we shouldn't think in terms of missing links, because even if we had the right fossil in front of us we would have no way of recognizing it as such. That was Gee's point as well. He replied with the Phillip Johnson argument that having a large number of candidate “missing links” is somehow a problem for evolutionists, and given the rampant controversy among paleoanthorpologists scientists shouldn't be so arrogant about talking about human evolution as a fact. I replied that he was confusing two separate questions. One question involves reconstructing specific evolutionary lineages. I said that sometimes we might have genetic and embryological evidence to supplement the fossils but in general it is very difficult to reconstruct specific lines of descent. Hence Gee's remarks about imagination and story telling. But a separate question is whether the fossils we have are consistent with the hypothesis of human descent from ape-like ancestors. That hypothesis gets stronger as we dig up more fossils. I concluded by saying that the reason we seem to know less as we dig up more fossils is that there are many possible lines of descent through the thicket of hominid fossils, and it's very difficult to pick out the right one.

He replied by talking about bushes versus trees, and about how those “iconic” diagrams of the ape to human transition that evolutionists use to prattle about are all nonsense. I had to laugh at this point. This was exactly the point Wood was making in the quote I mentioned previously. What he was saying to me at this point was quite right, and it showed that he did understand the quote properly.

A bunch of other things came up as well, but I don't remember all of the transitions. At one point he boasted that he does not believe that evolutionists should be ridiculed and that most are sincere in their beliefs. I pointed out that his boss at AiG, Ken Ham, wrote a book whose title was The Lie: Evolution. He replied that it was evolution itself that was the lie, but that scientists were not necessarily lying in teaching it. I pointed out that perhaps Ham should have called the book The Falsehood: Evolution but that a lie implies deliberate deceit. He answered that Satan was the deceiver. I said “So you're telling me that if I read this book carefully I won't find any implication that scientists are being deliberately dishonest?” He avoided the question.

(Since then I have skimmed through Ham's book. He says next to nothing about the scientific evidence for or against evolution, focussing instead on the importance of a literal Genesis to Christianity. But he is very clear that scientists are not being turthful when they say they are motivated to accept evolution by a desire for scientific truth. Actually, they are motivated by a desire to reject God.)

Another thing that came up was the distinction between what professional evolutionary biologists do and what certain popularizers say. He replied, gesturing at the remnants of the audience who were still milling around, that all most of these folks ever hear about evolution is what's in the popular literature. I had to stifle a laugh again, because his tone and facial expression achieved a level of condescension that would be termed the height of snobbery if someone on my side of this managed to achieve it. Anyway, he said that popularizers are giving an incorrect impression of the evidence for evolution and that was what he was trying to correct in his talk.

I replied that it is certainly true that occasionally a Gould or a Dawkins might be a little less precise than they ought to be in some paragraph or other. But the fact is a conference like this one isn't devoted to making science popularization more precise. It is devoted to convincing people that evolution is total nonsense, and that people would be foolish to believe it. If that is the goal, then you should really have more than a popular level understanding of the subject.

Though I didn't say it at the time, I was thinking about what a field day someone like Bell could have with every chemist who has ever described an atom as a mini solar system with electron planets orbiting a proton/neutron Sun.

Bell was not amused, and responded that the professionals don't seem to worry too much about the misconceptions the popularizers are perpetuating. I replied that they have more important things to worry about, and they figure that such inaccuracies as there are in the popularizations pale in comaprison to the nonsense that comes out of AiG.

We went on for quite a while, discussing the Cambrain explosion and the growth of genetic information and the like. In every case his answers suggested to me that he just didn't know what he was talking about. He did say that he will reread the sources of the quotations we discussed, since he didn't want to misuse scientist's words. I'm not optimistic that he will actualy do that, but I'll take what I can get. We shook hands and parted on friendly terms.

Dinner was next, and then three talks in the evening: “The History and Impact of the Book The Genesis Flood”, by John Whitcomb, “The Truth About the Scopes Trial,” by David Menton, and “Genesis: The Bottom Strip of the Christian Faith,” by Carl Kerby. Somehow I couldn't work up any enthusiasm for any of this, and I spent the evening at a nearby Barnes and Noble instead. It was nice to spend some time browsing through real books.

Next Up: Werner Gitt uses information theory to prove that people have souls.

To Be Continued

170 Comments

I pointed out that his boss at AiG, Ken Ham, wrote a book whose title was The Lie: Evolution. He replied that it was evolution itself that was the lie, but that scientists were not necessarily lying in teaching it. I pointed out that perhaps Ham should have called the book The Falsehood: Evolution but that a lie implies deliberate deceit. He answered that Satan was the deceiver. I said “So you’re telling me that if I read this book carefully I won’t find any implication that scientists are being deliberately dishonest?” He avoided the question.

(Since then I have skimmed through Ham’s book. He says next to nothing about the scientific evidence for or against evolution, focussing instead on the importance of a literal Genesis to Christianity. But he is very clear that scientists are not being turthful when they say they are motivated to accept evolution by a desire for scientific truth. Actually, they are motivated by a desire to reject God.)

(Here’s where it pays off) I have actually read that book. You’re right, Ham does not present evidence, he talks about how a literal interpretation is the very foundation of Christianity and how those wishy-washy theistic evolutionists and fence-sitters are allowing their foundations to erode.

He also says numerous bizarre things, like not allowing him to force his religious views on others would be a violation of his religious freedom.

He runs on at length about how a “day” in Genesis is a literal 24 hour period. And at one point he quotes Genesis chapter 2, including:

[16] And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: [17] But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

If you have read the story you know that Adam and Eve ate the fruit and did not die that very day, so Ham has unwittingly either 1) disproved Biblical inerrancy, or 2) established tha God lied to Adam while the serpent told the truth to Eve.

…for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

We are inerrantly told that Adam lived for 930 years, so doesn’t this give us a ballpark estimate as to how long a “day” was back then?

We are inerrantly told that Adam lived for 930 years, so doesn’t this give us a ballpark estimate as to how long a “day” was back then?

Only if you make some non-Biblical assumptions, such as the human life span hasn’t changed in the last 6000 years.

ICR’s “Back to Genesis” conferences have often had relatively green creationists presenting a boilerplate “Ape Men” talk, such as one I attended in Tucson on December 1, 1989 where the presenter was Michael Girouard, M.D., who seems to have faded away from the creationist public speaking circuit.

Re “And it’s very difficult to test statements of the form, “Fossil A is a direct ancestor of fossil B.””

Perhaps phrase it as “Fossil A is a close relative of the ancestor of fossil B”?

Henry

Is the bathroom wall broken again? My comments aren’t showing up there.

I was all set to add this to it, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/[…]/4708459.stm but noticed my posts from this afternoon still weren’t up.

If you have read the story you know that Adam and Eve ate the fruit and did not die that very day, so Ham has unwittingly either 1) disproved Biblical inerrancy, or 2) established tha God lied to Adam while the serpent told the truth to Eve.

Ooh. Ooh. Even I know the “answer” to that one. What the Bible means in this case is the “spritual death” - i.e. Adam and Eve, and everything else in creation is no longer immortal. See? Easy-peasy.

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 8, column 16, byte 693 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

Ooh. Ooh. Even I know the “answer” to that one. What the Bible means in this case is the “spiritual death” - i.e. Adam and Eve, and everything else in creation is no longer immortal. See? Easy-peasy.

Don’t you like “literalists”?

Don’t worry, though, anyone can invent their own “literal” interpretation of the Bible. All you have to do is mangle English so badly that even Humpty Dumpty would scream.

freelunch, Re “All you have to do is mangle English so badly that even Humpty Dumpty would scream.” Okay, but can you do that without getting egg on thine face? (heh heh)

steve, Re “Is the bathroom wall broken again? My comments aren’t showing up there.” I wondered about that, too. I posted there a few hours ago, and it didn’t even show up in a subsequent preview (somebody once said that pending posts show up if one clicks the “preview” button, so I tried that).

Henry

Don’t worry, though, anyone can invent their own “literal” interpretation of the Bible. All you have to do is mangle English so badly that even Humpty Dumpty would scream.

The best part is that these creationist literalists probably actually believe that it’s just a matter of understanding all those “thees” and “thous,” because of course they must have spoken English in the Bible, what civilized Christian wouldn’t?

Even setting aside the fact that any translation is, by definition, not literal, I must say that I have always wondered whether the people who insist that the Bible be interpreted so literally also think that Moby Dick is a documentary about the New England whaling industry, or that Hamlet was just about those wacky Danes and their politics.

But then I remember that this is Lynchburg that we’re talking about (I’ve been there a few times while staying at our house at Wintergreen a few miles away…which incidentally would have been a far more enjoyable way to spend that 150 bucks), and most people in Lynchburg strike me as the types who would be more likely to identify Hamlet as that “pig who is Winnie the Pooh’s sidekick.”

Well, I like one of the Gnostic interpretations of the Adam&Eve story. The serpent is an incarnation of Jesus, and eating the fruit leads Adam towards wisdom.

I’ve taken a bite and I’m sure you have too

Appologists comment that “that very day” was the time of the Fall and the setting of mortal lifespan. Entropy begins. Adam’s Sin, in otherwords, and commencing Mortal Sin (hence the “mortal” bit). But take that as you will. This was how the doctrine started, anyway. Ken Ham should note that the story of creation between Genesis 1 and 2 disagree about the order and apparently the reason for creation. Also, there is a passage in the Epistles that comments on “A day to God is like a 1,000 years to man,” and so forth, indicating that time to God is not the same as time to man. So before man entered the world, aka before the Expulsion from Paradise, the nature of day/night and time was different. Appologetically, anyway.

BTW, is it possible to NOT make ad hominem remarks in this thread? That one can refer to the theories and not the mentalities of the particulars for the sake of an argument? Id’ers not being stupid but rather believing first and investigating to fulfill the belief as the foundation ofr the argument without trying to call them stupid? Please? It does science no service to call people stupid. This goes back to Part Three as well, where this behavior was common.

I’m genuinely not trying to be a smart-ass when I say this, nor do I feel that I’m being ‘unnecessarily’ cynical, but wouldn’t a reasonable approach be to somehow(?) appeal to American avarice –rather, avarice in America (don’t get me wrong: I live in oz, but I greatly admire the ‘idea’ of the US). My point is this: this is exactly the wrong time for the US to be going to sleep over what is, and what is not, science: Asia awakes (not that I’m interested in sides beyond the practical purpose described here)! There is simply no sign, or reason to suppose, that they will ever be letting hokey world-views trafficked about by fruitloops and dingleberries interfere with the doing of science. Ya on the blocks…right now! There is much to lament about the race you had with the USSR and the victory dais(?) is far from being a safe place (some might reasonably argue less safe), but it certainly got the crowds cheering. A lot of these people (AiG/ID/et al) are scared/scarred.…scare them some more.

Natural Cynic’s comments puts me in mind of an interesting aspect of Gnosticism, that of the rejection of prophetism. In this just so story, without death, one cannot reach heaven which, according to Revelations, is the goal of human existence. Thus … Mortal Sin cannot be considered sin. But … that would be based on a LITERAL interpretation.…

That one can refer to the theories and not the mentalities of the particulars for the sake of an argument?

Perhaps it has to do with the vacuum created by the absence of any theory.

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 3, column 12, byte 209 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

where’s the “mayhem”? he says “evolutionists” shouldn’t be ridiculed? how modest of him. disappointing conversation.

Jaime Headden:

Ken Ham should note that the story of creation between Genesis 1 and 2 disagree about the order and apparently the reason for creation.

I think the way they usually resolve that is by saying that Genesis 1 was about the creation of the world but Genesis 2 was about the creation of the Garden of Eden and its inhabitants.

Pointing out discrepancies in Genesis or in the Bible in general is a fruitless exercise. There is nothing that the literalists haven’t see before.

After all, if you start from the standpoint that the Bible is infallible, then it doesn’t matter how many “problems” there are in the text. If you squint long and hard enough while standing on your head with you feet in a plastic bucket, you will find that all these problems go away (or something like that).

Of course, those very same literalists will leave home in the morning and promptly ignore or rationalise away all those inconvenient passages about loving thy neighbour and storing up treasures.

Inerrancy can be a bit of a bitch sometimes.

ajp Wrote:

appeal to American avarice

- It’s not America as a whole adopting fundamentalist ideas (yet).

- The ones with money/power will benefit regardless of where/who does any science. That’s why they are already supporting it (or giving the illusion of doing so to get votes).

- The most insanely religious don’t believe there is time for any consequences of being backwards. To them the end of the world is nigh and they want it so much and have so little genuine faith that they are going about bringing it to fruition themselves, eg by setting up Israel for a fall (even to the extent of specially breeding the prophesied cattle - using science). Go watch some of them in inaction (congratulating each other and feeding each other’s delusions) at Rapture Ready.

Historically it seems there was both a more secular and a priestly creation story, and both actual soruces have very different writing forms, the latter being much more liturgical in nature than the former. One is meant to simplify and “just so” tell the creation as a succession up until man (ignoring the last act of creation, in this sequence the most powerful and significant, is woman, and thus the very vessel of creation in human progeny), the other is the so-called “true” creation as priests understand it. Or so they say.

I apologise if this is a trite question. The fact that life on Earth is all built on L-amino acids seems overwhelming evidence of common descent. Yet I haven’t seen it used in arguments with Craetionists?

Many of them aren’t advanced enough to understand it. Of the few who are, some would excuse it as design (without any reason given for that design of course!) while others already accept common descent (at least on their good days but not on their bad days, eg when avoiding confronting the ones of their ilk who are even more wilfully stupid and ignorant than they are).

Following me in 39334 SEF in 39343 (hiya) seems to suggest that perhaps I’m the one who should be scared more. If what you say is true, the US, and perhaps therefore all of us as you suggest, is/are already screwed.A stat I saw recently (New Scientist, 9/7/2005) suggested that YEC was running at 45%, Nov 2004 (though trending down). As you pointed out, not all of America has gone OTT, but that can’t be too far off of the necessary critical mass to make Wilde’s (I think it was) comment about democracy being the bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people, a little less funny.

Never underestimate the “power” of fanaticism when joined with power. Take Trofim Denisovich Lysenko and the “fall” of Soviet biological science.

It was due to Lysenko’s efforts that many real scientists, those who were geneticists or who rejected Lamarckism in favor of natural selection, were sent to the gulags or simply disappeared from the USSR.

Oh, but it can’t happen here!

is it possible to NOT make ad hominem

To the extent that was directed at me, I am suitably admonished.

SEF

But the concept is so simple, that’s why I thought it might be too obvious. I doubt Creationists are stupid, and the majority are just misinformed. Though the ability to reflect is probably not an important selection pressure on their leaders.

Ooh. Ooh. Even I know the “answer” to that one. What the Bible means in this case is the “spritual death” - i.e. Adam and Eve, and everything else in creation is no longer immortal. See? Easy-peasy.

Appologists comment that “that very day” was the time of the Fall and the setting of mortal lifespan

Sounds fine for someone who is not quite literal, but Ham runs on ad nauseum about how the Bible should be taken very literally indeed.

Ham makes no attempt to ‘interpret’ such verses in his book The Lie: Evolution. He just states Biblical inerrancy with no attempt tp defend it, as if there hadn’t been exposes of Biblical errors and self-contradictions dating back centuries and even millenia.

39350

And a direct consequence of of the implementation of Lysenko’s politically motivated dogma via forced collectivisation was the famine that killed possibly 30 million Ukrainians. Consequences can be serious.

It’s not as if they care what the answer is; they’ll either misrepresent it or ignore it, and come back with some other question.

Maybe you are right. But then, what is this site for?

But then, what is this site for?

“The Panda’s Thumb is the virtual pub of the University of Ediacara. The patrons gather to discuss evolutionary theory, critique the claims of the antievolution movement, defend the integrity of both science and science education, and share good conversation.”

Lysenko rose to prominence in the late 40’s and 50’s. Although the effects of his idiocy were also lethal to many, they had virtually nothing to do with the collectivization process. They did produce famine, though.

Lenny, Lysenko first came to prominence in 1928 and the Famine occurred in 1933. Collectivisation had already begun but that is why Lysenko’s ideas were able to be so effectively and disastrously applied. Further havoc was wreaked in Communist China later when his ideas were exported there.

Sorry did not pick up earlier, work intervenes. Don’t know how some of you find time.

What have any of us learned from the creationist?

That a creationist can make reasonable, polite inquiries.

And (2) can’t answer any.

Lenny, Lysenko first came to prominence in 1928 and the Famine occurred in 1933. Collectivisation had already begun but that is why Lysenko’s ideas were able to be so effectively and disastrously applied.

Well, you may be right — I’m just going on memory, and it’s been an awful lot of years since I did any studying on Soviet history…

Sorry did not pick up earlier, work intervenes. Don’t know how some of you find time.

It’s simple — none of us have lives. :)

i apologise if i have created any confusion. it may be a polite creationist question but i really didnt claim to be a creationist. But thats not really important!! regardless; to continue with the idea that the basal reptile skull structure was initially felt to be anapsid and similar to that of lobe finned fishes and amphibians. The most famous of these organisms was mesosaurus, not because of its skull but because the fossils of this flimsy fish eating crocodile shaped organism were found in early permian strata on both the west coast of africa and the east coast of so. america. It was a finding that strongly suggested continental drift long before alfred wegener. It doesnt seem likely that anapsid skulls are all secondarily derved from diapsids. This is opposed to euryapsid skulls that almost certainly are. In the exhibit on the top floor of the american museum of natural history turtles are clearly aligned with pariasaurs as they are in the National Geographic article. This asks the question of genetic matching with common ancestors. Perhaps i am mistaken (as Jaime suggests) but if I am im not the only one. Is it not reasonable to expect if two organisms share a common ancestor at a more recent time than either did with a third then shouldnt their genomes show more DNA matches regardless of the appearance or ecological function of the organisms? Can i take a stab at the mystery of mysteries what is the scientific theory of intelligent design? (a flourish of trumpets is not necessary) Intelligent design refutes materialistic random appearing processes in nature because the mechanisms of action are not scientifically approachable. That which appears to be “random” or “uncertainty” or “chaos” is actually a supernatural agent working in a manner that cannot be elucidated using conventional scientific inquiry. In order for it to be studied the definition of science has to be changed. If im not mistaken there is movement afoot to do this already. This should be scary.

Can i take a stab at the mystery of mysteries what is the scientific theory of intelligent design? (a flourish of trumpets is not necessary) Intelligent design refutes materialistic random appearing processes in nature because the mechanisms of action are not scientifically approachable.

That’s not an answer to what is the scientific theory of intelligent design, it’s simply an unsupported claim about “intelligent design” (a nebulous phrase lacking a theory).

What reason is there to think that “the mechanisms of action are not scientifically approachable”, and how does that “refute” “materialistic random appearing processes in nature”? We observe such processes all the time, and the mechanisms of action have proven to be scientifically approachable.

That which appears to be “random” or “uncertainty” or “chaos” is actually a supernatural agent working in a manner that cannot be elucidated using conventional scientific inquiry.

What’s the basis for that claim? And such a claim certainly is not a scientific theory.

In order for it to be studied the definition of science has to be changed.

Another unspported claim – and an incoherent one to boot. None of these statements, alone or together, form a scientific theory.

If im not mistaken there is movement afoot to do this already.

Really? What is the new definition of science that this movement proposes? There’s a movement to misrepresent science and to confuse people about it, but that’s not quite the same thing.

This should be scary.

“Fear is the mind-killer.”

i apologise if i have created any confusion. it may be a polite creationist question but i really didnt claim to be a creationist.

IDer, creationist — same thing. (shrug)

Still waiting to hear an ID explanation for how turtles appeared.

Still waiting to hear why sea turtles are found at the top of the Flood Deposits, despite violating all three of YEC’s much-vaunted “hydro-sorting” thingies.

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 1, column 520, byte 520 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

It doesnt seem likely that anapsid skulls are all secondarily derved from diapsids.

Um, no one said they were. It is TURTLE skulls that are secondarily derived from diapsids. Not all anapsids are turtles.

Generally, if you don’t know what you are talking about, it’s not a good idea to talk about it anyway. Something about “better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt”.

As for the AMNH exhibits, they are years out of date.

Intelligent design refutes materialistic random appearing processes in nature

This provokes the standard question that I ask of everyone who bitches and moans about evolution’s “materialism”:

What, precisely, about “evolution” is any more “materialistic” than, say, weather forecasting or accident investigation or medicine. Please be as specific as possible.

I have never, in all my life, ever heard any weather forecaster mention “god” or “divine will” or any “supernatural” anything, at all. Ever. Does this mean, in your view, that weather forecasting is atheistic (oops, I mean, “materialistic” and “naturalistic” — we don’t want any judges to think ID’s railing against “materialism” has any RELIGIOUS purpose, do we)?

I have yet, in all my 44 years of living, to ever hear any accifdent investigator declare solemnly at the scene of an airplane crash, “We can’t explain how it happened, so an Unknown Intelligent Being must have dunnit.” I have never yet heard an accident investigator say that “this crash has no materialistic causes – it must have been the Will of Allah”. Does this mean, in your view, that accident investigation is atheistic (oops, sorry, I meant to say “materialistic” and “naturalistic” – we don’t want any judges to know that it is “atheism” we are actually waging a religious crusade against, do we)?

How about medicine. When you get sick, do you ask your doctor to abandon his “materialistic biases” and to investigate possible “supernatural” or “non-materialistic” causes for your disease? Or do you ask your doctor to cure your naturalistic materialistic diseases by using naturalistic materialistic antibiotics to kill your naturalistic materialistic germs?

Since it seems to me as if weather forecasting, accident investigation, and medicine are every bit, in every sense,just as utterly completely totally absolutely one-thousand-percent “materialistic” as evolutionary biology is, why, specifically, is it just evolutionary biology that gets your panties all in a bunch? Why aren’t you and your fellow Wedge-ites out there fighting the good fight against godless materialistic naturalistic weather forecasting, or medicine, or accident investigation?

Or does that all come LATER, as part of, uh, “renewing our culture” .… . ?

For some odd reason, no one seems to ever want to answer this simple question . …

Besides the other points that ts and Lenny have adequately replied to, pro from dover does have one tiny point.

It is true that we do not have 100% predictability of random events. We cannot, for example, tell where or when a mutation will strike the genome. We can predict that given exposure to radiation, the mutation rate will increase. Or we can knock out a gene at a specific site, in an experiment. But pro from dover has a point that there is a realm we cannot approach, that of predicting the random events at the heart of the process.

Even natural selection is driven by random events. It depends on climate changes, population diversity, inter- and intra- species competition, and innumerable other factors which are all subject to [mostly] unpredictable events, which interplay to create so many factors, that it is difficult to tell the outcome.

So there is no reason to think that there is no God acting in this hidden capacity continually. However, that is not what ID says. ID goes further, to [attempt to] challange the theory of evolution, which has no claims as to the existance or non-existance of God, though many of its supporters seem to think it does have some bearing on the question. It is true that evolution supporters have used the science to buttress their lack of belief in a divine entity. Why is it so difficult to concede that point?

Lenny, you are right, pro from dover has not answered the questions, but at least he is listening. And has not been condescending, as some of us have been in our replies.

This thread is getting way too long, so I for one, will move my comments, if I have any further ones, to a newer post that is more relevant to this discussion.

Thank you Katrina; at last a tiny begruging nanopoint conceded. I now have a pawn against the full army on the other side. I think i’ve got this now: basal anapsid reptiles (which presumably gave rise to synapsid and sauropsid lineages) died out leaving no descendants. turtles, full diapsid reptiles closely allied to crocodiles, secondarily developed a seemingly (but not osteogenically identical) anapsid skull structure subsequently. This is comparable to the development secondarily of the euryapsid skull also from diapsids. The exhibit in the AMNH where turtles are placed in a lineage with pariasaurs and publications such as Nat Geo who lable them as parareptiles are mistaken. The true use (if any) for the term “parareptile” should be limited to basal anapsids such as mesosaurus. Am i in the ballpark here? Then my only confusion is What then is a pariasaur? lenny on the other hand thinks he’s Darwin’s bulldog of the 21st century. All I can say is I knew T H Huxley. T H Huxley was a friend of mine, and you sir are no T H Huxley. Im not sure bulldog-wise you’re even Handsome Dan. Speaking of Dan, I havent noticed a post on PT about the death of John Ostrum one of Americas foremost paleontologists who championed the dinosaur-bird link as did Huxley (he was ridiculed for this) If Lenny were alive in the 1860’s he may well have called T H a fool. Lenny, there is a place for evolutionary education on PT beyond ad hominem attacks. I venture that im not the only one who didnt know the early amniote history, and im certain im not the only one who was puzzled by the Nat geo. cladogram. On another thread since no official spokesperson is willing to define the scientific theory of intelligent design maybe we can do that for them. Katrina, can you help?

Lenny, you are right, pro from dover has not answered the questions, but at least he is listening. And has not been condescending, as some of us have been in our replies.

With all respect, I’d very much prefer that he be as condescending as he wants to be, as long as he just answers my friggin questions.

hz2 hz2 hz2 hz2 blog

But pro from dover has a point that there is a realm we cannot approach, that of predicting the random events at the heart of the process.

I fail to see how that’s a point, any more than that we can’t predict the exact reactions going on in the center of the sun. It certainly has no bearing on the ToE or ID.

So there is no reason to think that there is no God acting in this hidden capacity continually.

Yes, there is. There’s Occam’s Razor, and methodological naturalism.

However, that is not what ID says. ID goes further, to [attempt to] challange the theory of evolution

IDists challenge it but can provide no rational or evidentiary basis for doing so.

which has no claims as to the existance or non-existance of God, though many of its supporters seem to think it does have some bearing on the question. It is true that evolution supporters have used the science to buttress their lack of belief in a divine entity. Why is it so difficult to concede that point?

Uh, because it’s completely and utterly irrelevant? What does some individuals using science to buttress beliefs for or against (both is done – don’t you know that?) a divine entity have to do with ToE or ID? And since when as anyone refused to “concede” it?

Lenny, you are right, pro from dover has not answered the questions, but at least he is listening.

Well, uh, he seems not to have heard the questions.

And has not been condescending, as some of us have been in our replies.

So fing what? What does this ad hominem garbage have to do with ToE or ID?

On another thread since no official spokesperson is willing to define the scientific theory of intelligent design maybe we can do that for them.

There is no scientific theory of intelligent design.

Lenny, there is a place for evolutionary education on PT beyond ad hominem attacks.

I made no “ad hominem attacks”. I simply asked questions. It’s not *my* fault that IDers can’t answer them. (shrug)

‘Willingly ignorant’ scoffers of the Mega Conference by Philip Bell, AiG–UK/Europe

2 August 2005

In the wake of the enormously successful creation conference at Liberty University, Lynchburg, USA (17–22 July), various web chat rooms have been buzzing. A number of sceptics attended the event and reported their opinions to their fraternity, mostly in the form of blogs. In one such blog, the writer had written at length about the talk that I gave on the first main conference day, ‘Apemen, “missing links” and the Bible’.1 Following my talk, he was the last in a line of people who waited to question me–a young man, polite but rather full of himself and his own opinions. We had a cordial discussion and I realised that he was probably an evolutionist, although he kept his real motives under wraps.

On reading his blog material about myself and other creationists, it quickly became clear that this polite exterior had been a sham–on one of his blogs, following a talk by Dr. Werner Gitt, he describes how he really felt when answering a lady who dared to question his knowledge of biology:

‘I resisted the temptation to damage her physically in some way. I likewise resisted the temptation to unleash upon her a barrage of profanity so disgusting it would have made her ears melt right off her head. All I did was approach her casually, and in my most winning and charming manner (which is very winning and very charming, if I do say so myself) say, “Really, how so?”’2 That’s hardly a confession that most people would be proud of! So, far from some sort of impartial appraisal of the creationist speakers, his intention from the outset was clearly to paint them in as bad a light as he possibly could.

As I discovered on reading his report of my talk and our conversation, he was certainly not above distorting or misreporting the facts to make his points! First off, I was rather amused that he described me as having an Australian accent–seemingly he hadn’t even bothered to check what country I was from. But there were other points in his blog which seemed to show a wilful misrepresentation of the facts.

He commented:

‘Bell closed his talk with a truly bizarre statement. He summarized the fossil evidence as follows: There are thousands of hominid fossils, a statement he backed up by citing the Catalog of Fossil Hominids from the British Museum of Natural History. Then he said there are hundreds of human fossils. And there are numerous extinct ape fossils. But nothing in between!’ In our discussion, I had reiterated to him what I had explicitly stated on one of my slides, that the human fossils to which I referred included the several hundred known Neandertal and Homo erectus fossils (themselves ‘hominids’). Of the thousands of catalogued fossils, most of them are not considered helpful to the evolutionary story (hence the oft-repeated evolutionist canards like ‘all the fossils will fit into the boot (trunk) of a car’ or ‘onto a snooker table’, etc.). All the non-Homo fossils that I covered in my talk are extinct apes, as even most evolutionists have conceded–albeit that they argue among themselves as to which of these was on the illustrious line leading to humans. Most of the Homo fossils (with the notable exception of Homo habilis) are agreed by the majority of creationists to be extinct humans. His blog comments here, as elsewhere, were designed to imply that I and other creationist speakers didn’t even understand the basics of our talk topics. For instance, he wrote: ‘So I tried again and asked, “But the issue is what did the British museum have in mind when they used the term hominid in their catalog? You offered hominid fossils as something separate from ape and human fossils. So what are they?” We were off to the races again.’ Yet at no point did I offer hominid as separate from ape or human, for the very definition includes humans, today’s apes and all those alleged ‘ape-men’ transitions.

Still on the conversation with me, this blogger says:

‘I pointed out that perhaps [Ken] Ham should have called the book [The Lie: Evolution] The Falsehood: Evolution but that a lie implies deliberate deceit. He answered that Satan was the deceiver. I said “So you’re telling me that if I read this book carefully I won’t find any implication that scientists are being deliberately dishonest?” He avoided the question.’ I did not avoid any question that this person asked me but I did make it clear to him that not all evolutionists and teachers are knowingly telling lies (far from it) as many simply believe, by default, this prevalent ideology that so saturates our culture via the education system and the media. However, I pointed out that they are, nevertheless, still guilty of perpetrating things that are false and therefore misleading many people–and that’s a serious matter.

On this point, he wrote:

‘Another thing that came up was the distinction between what professional evolutionary biologists do and what certain popularizers say. He replied, gesturing at the remnants of the audience who were still milling around, that all most of these folks ever hear about evolution is what’s in the popular literature. I had to stifle a laugh again, because his tone and facial expression achieved a level of condescension that would be termed the height of snobbery if someone on my side of this managed to achieve it. Anyway, he said that popularizers are giving an incorrect impression of the evidence for evolution and that was what he was trying to correct in his talk.’ I was not in the least condescending as I well knew that the audiences at the Mega Conference included a large number of well-educated and informed creationists–exactly the opposite of what he was implying! But, the truth is that creationists do have to counter the stuff that is taught at both the technical level (which few laypeople read) and the popular level. My talk was in the ‘basic track’ of the conference and so was pitched to the intelligent layperson accordingly. Had he read the program like everyone else attending the conference, he would have known this; or perhaps he knowingly omitted this rather significant fact from his review. He went on: ‘I replied that it is certainly true that occasionally a Gould or a Dawkins might be a little less precise than they ought to be in some paragraph or other. But the fact is a conference like this one isn’t devoted to making science popularization more precise. It is devoted to convincing people that evolution is total nonsense, and that people would be foolish to believe it. If that is the goal, then you should really have more than a popular level understanding of the subject.’ He certainly did not say the last two sentences to me and has added these to his blog to embellish himself as the bold refuter of creationist nonsense. Had he bothered to find out, he would have discovered that my knowledge of the subject matter went way beyond what I had covered in my presentation–as I have no doubt is true of all the speakers at the conference. But his statement reveals that his real motive–as with so many like him–is to paint creation-believing scientists as those who are prepared to use any means–fair or foul–to turn people against evolution. The implication is that we can only make our case by dealing with our subject matter superficially, and that detailed understanding would somehow reveal how watertight evolutionary theory is!

Ironically, he later contradicts himself:

‘Bell was not amused, and responded that the professionals don’t seem to worry too much about the misconceptions the popularizers are perpetuating. I replied that they have more important things to worry about, and they figure that such inaccuracies as there are in the popularizations pale in comaprison [sic] to the nonsense that comes out of AiG.’ I did remark as his first sentence indicates, but he never said that AiG produced nonsense–he kept his real feelings hidden, as I said, and has merely added this to make it sound like he was being totally ‘up front’ and bold in his discussion with me.

Finally, it was ‘enlightening’ for me to read him say:

‘We went on for quite a while, discussing the Cambrain [sic] explosion and the growth of genetic information and the like. In every case his answers suggested to me that he just didn’t know what he was talking about.’ At this point in our conversation, I recall that he spoke with such ‘authority’ and superciliousness about matters that I had been studying for over twenty years since leaving school, that I pointedly asked him about his own background, to which he replied that he was a mathematician.3 Like so many, this opinionated young man has quite convinced himself that he must know more than anybody who is stupid enough to be a creationist, no matter what their scientific credentials or experience!

Well did the apostle Peter (2 Peter 3:5, 6) write of such scoffers: For this they willfully forget

[willingly are ignorant of; KJV]: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. ‘ The tragedy is that these issues are not esoteric matters with little relevance to the real world, for humanistic and evolutionary philosophies blind many to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. The Bible is clear that all people will be required to account for their lives at the final consummation of all things (2 Peter 3:7): ‘But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. ‘ In light of the future resurrection of all people–to eternal life or eternal punishment–the apostle Paul said (Acts 24:16), ‘This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. ‘

References and notes , 28 July, 2005. Return to text. , 28 July, 2005. Return to text. He is actually an assistant professor of mathematics at James Madison University, Virginia. Return to text.

Well, that was rather incoherent. I particularly like the following appeal to authority, r.e. the Cambrian explosion:

“At this point in our conversation, I recall that he spoke with such ‘authority’ and superciliousness about matters that I had been studying for over twenty years since leaving school, that I pointedly asked him about his own background, to which he replied that he was a mathematician.3 Like so many, this opinionated young man has quite convinced himself that he must know more than anybody who is stupid enough to be a creationist, no matter what their scientific credentials or experience!”

Now check out Mr Bell’s background:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/eve[…]peaker_ID=19

A little bit of cancer research and ‘study’ for 20 years after school makes an expert on the Cambrian explosion? Hmm. A quick bit of searching suggests that he was probably a lab assistant and managed to get his name on a few papers here and there (such as):

NEOPTOLEMOS JP, CLAYTON H, NICHOLSON M, OLLERENSHAW J, JOHNSON B, MASON J, MANSON K, JAMES R, BELL P. (1988) THE INFLUENCE OF DIETARY-FAT ON THE FATTY-ACID PROFILE OF RED BLOOD-CELLS (RBC) AND ADIPOSE-TISSUE IN PATIENTS WITH COLORECTAL-CANCER (CRC. BRITISH JOURNAL OF CANCER, 58 (4): 538-538.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Jason Rosenhouse published on July 24, 2005 1:27 PM.

Report on the 2005 Creation Mega Conference, Part Three was the previous entry in this blog.

Super-mutant killer mice destroying all in their path! is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter