Hunter: not young earther. Agnostic-age earther?

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Cornelius Hunter says he isn’t a young-earth creationist, so I have edited that part of my previous blog post. However, he admits he has never written about his position on the age of the earth. This is pretty incredible for anyone who books and blogs on the evolution/creationism debate.

Furthermore, Hunter bashes not only evolutionists for being inappropriately “religious” – he thinks that anyone who draws any conclusions about anything being the result of a natural process is implicitly and illegitimately assuming “God wouldn’t have done it that way” and is thus religious – Hunter also has spent many posts taking on Immanuel Kant, Pierre-Simon Laplace, and other figures who developed the Nebular Hypothesis and its descendants as explanations for the formation of the Solar System and its features (for example, the fact that the planets lie in a plane and revolve in the same direction). Hunter’s argument, as always, is “How dare those scientists assume that God wouldn’t have made the planets lie in a plane and revolve in the same direction?!? They are clearly doing theology! Religion drives science and it matters! Look at me, I have just single-handedly refuted the whole naturalistic origins of the Solar System, it’s just as reasonable to think God did it according to his good pleasure, and when I conclude this, I’m not invoking religion, my opponents are! Nyah nyah nyah!”

Obviously this position is incredibly close to young-earth creationism, so I concluded that’s where Hunter was. He says he’s not – but prevarication in these matters is actually quite common with a certain breed of ID/creationist. Most of us would assume that “I’m not a young-earth creationist” means that someone is an old-earther. However, this is not a valid deduction, because there is another position some creationists have – basically “agnostic on the age creationism.” Sometimes, for a combination of crass political motives, and extreme application of creationist naive Baconianism, creationists will just avoid the topic of the age of the earth, and hope that it doesn’t come up. (Baconianism is used to describe the position, common with evangelicals and fundamentalists back to the 1700s, that only direct eyewitness observation is science, all else is “theory”, i.e. unreliable pointless guessing, so we might as well prefer “GodDidIt”. It is extremely popular in creationist reasoning and rhetoric throughout the 20th century, although sometimes disguised. Hunter is an explicit proponent of Baconianism in his books.) Other examples of agnostic-age creationists are Forrest Mims and Phillip Johnson.

So: my new position is that Cornelius Hunter is an agnostic-on-the-age-of-the-earth creationist. As I’ve noted before, this position is quite possibly even more ridiculous than young-earth creationism itself. If I’m wrong, all Hunter has to do to refute me is tell us how old he thinks the Earth is, and why.

54 Comments

This projection on Hunter’s part (that evolution is religion) is actually another aspect of the projection of jealousy onto a deity. It is simply the old lust for power, anger over not having it, and a pent up rage to wrest it from those one is jealous of.

Looking over Hunter’s jealous diatribes reveals that, like all ID/creationists whatever their particular stripes, he always gets the science wrong.

Apparently that doesn’t matter to him. His blind jealousy of scientists makes it impossible for him to understand what gives them what he himself doesn’t have; namely, insight into how Nature actually works.

”…he thinks that anyone who draws any conclusions about anything being the result of a natural process is implicitly and illegitimately assuming “God wouldn’t have done it that way” and is thus religious –“

So then, how exactly could one not be “religious”? If you say God would have done it that way, then you are definately being religious. If you say that God wouldn’t have done it that way, you are also being “religious”! Therefore, no matter what you say, you will be labelled as “religious”. So then, how can being “religious” be a bad thing, if that is the only possibllity?

Once again the absurditites of creationism are revealed when they try to claim that science or evolution is religion. Yea, sure, and ice cream is treason.

What if you just say “It seems to have happened this way, and natural processes explain it pretty well. Maybe God was there, maybe she wasn’t, we can’t tell.”

Being noncommittal on the age of the earth is just as much a give-away as being noncommittal on the shape of the earth.

fnxtr said:

What if you just say “It seems to have happened this way, and natural processes explain it pretty well. Maybe God was there, maybe she wasn’t, we can’t tell.”

You mentioned the word God. So you are religious. nyah nyah nayahanya!

Does Cornelius Hunter even know what he’s talking about?

http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/200[…]chances.html

It looks to me like the commenter “Duke” made Mr. Hunter look kinda silly.

So then, how exactly could one not be “religious”? If you say God would have done it that way, then you are definately being religious.

No no no. If you make a claim about what some god might not have done, clearly this is religious. But if you point out objectively, according to the evidence, exactly what god DID, this isn’t religion at all. It’s simple observation. Any True Believer can see that (as Behe admitted on the stand - without the belief, the evidence of prima facie design is not visible. So it’s not religion, but rather WRONG religion that blinds you. RIGHT religion isn’t religion at all, it’s simple truth.)

At least, that’s the way I understand it.

Flint wrote:

“But if you point out objectively, according to the evidence, exactly what god DID, this isn’t religion at all.”

But if you point out objectively, according to the evidence, exactly what we see in nature, this isn’t religion at all. At least if you make no assumptions about the existence of a God or gods and you make no assumptions about nature being created by a God or gods.

There, fixed that for you.

That having been written, I agree. The underlying and unspoken assumption here is that my views are not religion because they are correct and your views are religion because the are wrong. What hypocricy.

Corny is just a typical religious Lying for Jesus nut-job. Ask him about his use of coloring book pictures to try and claim that a thalycine and a wolf are the same… and the pictures were actually a thalycine, and ITS REVERSE MIRROR IMAGE!!! (I believe Wes caught him red-handed in this deception.)

Well Corny? Were you lying to us then, or lying to us now?

Evolution is a “religion” because (in in the theology of my particular cult) it denies God and therefore expresses a theological opinion.

Creationism is not a religion because it might actually be right (because it can never be proved wrong); and therefore, it is a legitimate secular argument.

Ah hum … some more additions to the “Fundie Dictionary” project …

After the extreme embarrassment of Thylacine-gate, it seems to me that nobody needs to bother with anything that Hunter has to say. He obviously has no shame.

John wrote:

“Evolution is a “religion” because (in in the theology of my particular cult) it denies God and therefore expresses a theological opinion.”

Some people may actually think so. Thing is, it matters not what the theology of any particular cult claims. What matters is what modern evolutionary biology claims. Of course, modern evolutionary biology makes no theological claims one way or the other. The claims of any cult therefore cannot affect the teaching of evolution in public schools, they can only affect the teaching of the cult in public schools.

The thing about tortured logic is, you have to torture the people who interpret and enforce the laws in order for it to have any effect on the law.

Oh I see they have a thread for Mr. Hunter at AtBC

http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bi[…];t=4254;st=0

Apparently he’s some sort of an expert at not answering Lenny Flank’s questions. :P

He’s at the DI.

The question isn’t whether he is utterly wrong about everything always (he is) but which of his lies for the cause and the faith he is conscious of making at the time of their utterance. As he and his “fellows” have no power and no influence, it’s basically a game, now. Their only real concern is avoiding getting real jobs. Our only real concern is what entertainment value they provide.

We would get much higher value if they were de-funded, though. What would WD do without even this sliver of a publinc spotlight? Something VERY funny to regain it, I’d bet.

The Curmudgeon said:

Being noncommittal on the age of the earth is just as much a give-away as being noncommittal on the shape of the earth.

Perfectly and pithily said.

386sx said:

Does Cornelius Hunter even know what he’s talking about?

http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/200[…]chances.html

It looks to me like the commenter “Duke” made Mr. Hunter look kinda silly.

That’s one of the better threads I’ve read for a long time. Duke’s arguments are so clear and easy to follow even for a non-scientist like me while it seems Hunter is doing his best to not understand.

And that is quite understandable; if he should arrive at a proper understanding of genetics his carefully constructed house of cards would crumble.

We see that same kind of creationist ignorance all the time; they just don’t bother to learn science. I believe the reason is they are so certain of being right that they don’t think they have anything to learn from science, they have fallen for their own propaganda.

Corney wrote (in the thread linked above):

“Religion drives science and it matters.”

Great. Just about five hundred years too late. Has this guy read any history in the last five hundred years? Obviously he hasn’t read any science in the last five hundred years.

I agree with Rolf, that Duke guy was awesome. He “zeroed” in precisely on the fatal flaw in the Hunter argument and demonstrated exactly why it was eroneous. If Corney wants to calculate a meaningful probability, why doesn’t he calculate the probability that he will ever be bothered to learn even the basics of modern genetics. Now that would be a number with lots of zeros!

His religion may drive his science, but the rest of the world doesn’t seem to notice. Now, which approach do you think has been more successful? (Hint: don’t forget to include the last five hundred years).

What if one god would have done it one way, but another god would have done it another way?

mark wrote:

“What if one god would have done it one way, but another god would have done it another way?”

Great. Then all you have to do is figure out the motivation and capabilities of all of the potential dieties and determine which one, (or ones,) is most likely responsible.

Of course, in order for a god of any type to be responsible, it would have to have some reason for creating life to look exactly the way one would expect if it had evolved. That means that the most dishonest and deceitful diety was most likely responsible. Let me know how that works out for you.

Rolf Aalberg said:

386sx said:

Does Cornelius Hunter even know what he’s talking about?

http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/200[…]chances.html

It looks to me like the commenter “Duke” made Mr. Hunter look kinda silly.

That’s one of the better threads I’ve read for a long time. Duke’s arguments are so clear and easy to follow even for a non-scientist like me while it seems Hunter is doing his best to not understand.

And that is quite understandable; if he should arrive at a proper understanding of genetics his carefully constructed house of cards would crumble.

We see that same kind of creationist ignorance all the time; they just don’t bother to learn science. I believe the reason is they are so certain of being right that they don’t think they have anything to learn from science, they have fallen for their own propaganda.

Yeah, Cornelius, “the Ph.D. adjunct professor of biophysics”, pretends like he is baffled by Duke’s “platonic ideal” objection. That is some comedy gold, folks.

I have noticed over the last several years that a lot of young earth creationists love to hide the fact that they either believe in young earth creationism (the religious doctrine that the universe and the earth were created around 6,000 or so years ago) or at least seriously think that young earth creationism is scientifically plausible (i.e., that modern geological science is drastically, fundamentally wrong). I believe the motivation for this is this: They know that being open about being a young earth creationist (or considering that it’s scientifically plausible) will cause the people they’re dealing with to immediately know that they have less than zero scientific credibility (because their critics know, of course, that anyone who takes young earth creationism seriously is immediately revealing his ignorance and/or incompetence regarding the relevant areas of science), and they’ll be ridiculed for it.

Of course, what they’re failing to deal with is that the ignorance/incompetence demonstrated by taking the idea of young earth creationism seriously demonstrates further that they simply can’t be taken seriously about anything they have to say about any scientific issues at all, because it is a demonstration of some fundamental flaws in their thinking processes when it comes to their choosing to believe in religious dogma regardless of rational analysis and empirical evidence, and then opposing rational analysis and empirical evidence when it contradicts what they believe.

Cornelius HUnter is almost certainly a YEC and almost certainly lying about it.

YECs are trained to lie about being YECs. They usually say, “I don’t know.” What they mean is, “I don’t want to sound even dumber than usual so I’ll lie.”

Don’t let them get away with crap like that. Push them on it.

People who use outright lies to support a position like Hunter and the YECs have already lost. They know it is a bunch of mythological nonsense and one or hundred more lies won’t matter.

Since Corny apparently believes that every molecule of chloroplast DNA in every cell of every corn plant has exactly the same nucleotide sequence, he must be a very, very, very young earth creationist. Last Thursday might not even do it!

Given that, it would seem completely unnecessary for him to hide his denial of the age of the earth. Anyone who knew anything should already have written him off scientifically long ago.

386sx said:

Yeah, Cornelius, “the Ph.D. adjunct professor of biophysics”, pretends like he is baffled by Duke’s “platonic ideal” objection. That is some comedy gold, folks.

Unfortunately this is just the kind of mud wrestling ID/creationists love; it gets them points among their following that they can never get from the science community.

The original post by Hunter is a taunt to lure in someone whose “respectability” will then rub off on Hunter in the ensuing “scientific” debate over Hunter’s pseudo-science.

In every “discussion” with an ID/creationist I have ever seen (literally hundreds of them), the ID/creationist always manages to keep the discussion going on extreme and irrelevant minutia. One can never get them to describe their understanding of fundamental scientific concepts.

And you certainly cannot get them to explain the mechanisms of their own “theories”.

Cornelius HUnter is almost certainly a YEC and almost certainly lying about it.

wasn’t hunter the guy that tried to use the same picture for thylacines and wolves in some presentation a while back?

i seem to recall several of us reaming him a new one on ATBC?

maybe a couple years ago now?

…many posts taking on Immanuel Kant

oh, sing it with me now…

“Immanuel Kant was a real pissant who was very rarely stable…”

fnxtr said:

What if you just say “It seems to have happened this way, and natural processes explain it pretty well. Maybe God was there, maybe she wasn’t, we can’t tell.”

Well, in my particular case, and that of a number of other people, I can’t say that because I don’t think it’s true.

Speaking more generally, it doesn’t really make any more sense than saying, “Maybe it was created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, maybe it wasn’t. We can’t tell.” Or “the Saturn-orbiting teapot,” or whatever.

First sentence is rock-solid, though.

The other question some YECs hate is, “Do you believe Noah had a boatload of dinosaurs?”

The YECs that are trying to look intelligent and educated will waffle around and refuse to answer it. They know it makes them look silly.

Be sure to ask it often and don’t let them evade the question.

It is a central story of their religion. God ineptly creates humans in his own image so they are also inept. Then he genocides all but 8 in an attempt to improve them. That didn’t work so he sent his kid down to be nailed to a tree. So how did that work? The next step in god’s improvement program to fix his original design flaws is another genocide.

For an all powerful being, he certainly seems to have trouble getting things to work. Someone tell me again, why the fundie god is worth worshipping?

I had to look up Forrest Mims. Wiki says: “In December, 2008 Discover Magazine named Mims one of the “50 Best Brains in Science.”

I guess this is where the clever posters at PandasThumb follow up with, “but, but, but…”

Markz said:

I had to look up Forrest Mims. Wiki says: “In December, 2008 Discover Magazine named Mims one of the “50 Best Brains in Science.”

I guess this is where the clever posters at PandasThumb follow up with, “but, but, but…”

But, but, but… you’re making an argument from authority, where there is no argument, and the authority is Discover Magazine?

Let me guess, this ends “.…therefore Jesus”?

Mike Elzinga said:

386sx said:

Yeah, Cornelius, “the Ph.D. adjunct professor of biophysics”, pretends like he is baffled by Duke’s “platonic ideal” objection. That is some comedy gold, folks.

Unfortunately this is just the kind of mud wrestling ID/creationists love; it gets them points among their following that they can never get from the science community.

The original post by Hunter is a taunt to lure in someone whose “respectability” will then rub off on Hunter in the ensuing “scientific” debate over Hunter’s pseudo-science.

In every “discussion” with an ID/creationist I have ever seen (literally hundreds of them), the ID/creationist always manages to keep the discussion going on extreme and irrelevant minutia. One can never get them to describe their understanding of fundamental scientific concepts.

And you certainly cannot get them to explain the mechanisms of their own “theories”.

On the spot.

Reading ID/creationist arguments I always have this frustrating feeling, what is the subject? What is the argument? It gets pretty boring after a while. Not only are they unable to explain “their” mechanism, they don’t seem to have even a rudimentary knowledge and understanding of “our” theory and mechanisms. And that’s not due to a lack of descriptions!

It is wilful ignorance.

Nick Matzke Wrote:

So: my new position is that Cornelius Hunter is an agnostic-on-the-age-of-the-earth creationist. As I’ve noted before, this position is quite possibly even more ridiculous than young-earth creationism itself. If I’m wrong, all Hunter has to do to refute me is tell us how old he thinks the Earth is, and why.

My take is this: Anyone associated with the DI is either “agnostic” (I prefer “don’t ask, don’t tell”) on the age of the earth (and life, universe, and key events like the Cambrian “explosion”, Permian and K-T extinctions, etc.), or would be if it didn’t make them lose credibility with a significant % of their target audience.

Some who have admitted most or all of the mainstream science timeline back when ID seemed to be reaching for a more science-literate audience might wish they had “played dumb” from the beginning, but they can’t do it now because they’d have a lot of splainin’ to do for the backpedaling.

I personally suspect (but can’t prove, not being a mind reader) that anyone who plays “don’t ask, don’t tell” privately knows that the entire mainstream timeline, and common descent, if not all of evolution, is the only explanation that makes sense. But they can’t admit that because of a prior commitment to the big tent. Let’s not forget that if they play “agnostic” and don’t try to support YEC or one of the old-earth-young-life accounts, then they are not ruling out Last Thursdayism and its infinite variants. So yes, it is certainly more ridiculous than YEC, which at least makes testable hypotheses and tries (however clumsily and selectively) to support a single alternate origins scenario.

So let’s keep hammering them with specific questions, especially on the age of life and subsequent key events. If only to watch them dance.

Forrest Mims wikipedia:

Forrest M. Mims III is an amateur scientist[1] and magazine columnist and the author of the popular Engineer’s Mini-Notebook series of instructional books originally sold in Radio Shack electronics stores. Deleted for length In December, 2008 Discover Magazine named Mims one of the “50 Best Brains in Science.”[4]

Mims is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the National Science Teachers Association and several scientific societies.

Forrest Mims is also an advocate for Intelligent design and serves as a Fellow of the International Society for Complexity, Information and Design and the Discovery Institute.[5][6] He is also a skeptic of global warming.[7][8]

Forrest Mims seems to be a self taught electrical engineer. And a xian religious fanatic. Which makes him well qualified to comment on biology and evolution.

What Markz forgot to mention: the other 49 best brains almost certainly accept evolution, geology, and astronomy as the best explanations for science. 99% of US scientists in relevant fields do so. It is higher in Europe.

We should ask Markz how old the earth is and if Noah had a boatload of dinosaurs. But lately most of the trolls have been drive by screamers so it doesn’t much matter.

Markz also “forgot” to mention Discover’s alleged article was actually a collection of five different ones:

5 Lifetime Achievers who have revolutionized their fields: Noam Chomsky, Vinton Cerf, Stephen Hawking, E.O. Wilson, and Edward Witten

10 Most Influential People in Science

20 Best Scientists Under 40

5 Prodigy Scientists Under 20

and…

10 Amateur Scientists Who Might Cure Cancer — From Their Basements

Mims was listed in the last group. A group created because Discover wants to encourage amateurs.

[Mims] is also a skeptic of global warming.[7][8]

Leaving aside the usual bait-and-switch between “global warming in general”, anthropogenic global warming, and “what should govt. do about it,” this is another subject where the term “pseudoskeptic” seems very appropriate. They go out of their way to pretend that they have “no dog in the fight,” but they never express any “skepticism” of any of the alternate hypotheses either (e.g. solar-caused warming).

BTW, has anyone ever used the same “scientific” argument to justify doubt of evolution and AGW? Anyone can say “not enough evidence,” but I’m wondering if any of them ever tried to justify singling out those two very different data sets as being “weak”.

So far the only common argument I know of that is used for both is the very unscientific “conspiracy of scientists” nonsense. That, along with their own authoritarian ideology, says more about them than it does about mainstream science.

No, “therefore Meher Baba.”

Markz said:

No, “therefore Meher Baba.”

Well, I have to admit I didn’t anticipate this response!

Hunter fits all of the criteria I know about for a good ol’ fashion country kook.

What strikes me most strongly about these people is that they are agnostic not just about evolution or the age of the earth or whatever; they are simply indifferent to science and the values that it has come to adopt.

This underscores for me that The Controversy is essentially a social and political one. Science is just a weapon to be used or abused as may be convenient. That the logical conclusion of creationism would be to debase a fundamental component of modern economies and societies is probably why the more rational (however otherwise disagreeable) part of their political movements have never seriously adopted creationism as part of their political program. The thinking is along the lines “the rubes can have Noah in science class, they don’t become scientists anyway, but keep your hands off my Genentech shares!”. It’s cynical, but very effective.

I guess this is Cornelius’s promised reply to Duke:

http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/200[…]-day-10.html

He’s still completely ignoring what everybody said. (So, I would guess he just wants to irritate people and get blog hits and sell books and stuff.)

Amadan Wrote:

This underscores for me that The Controversy is essentially a social and political one.

Unfortunately that message is getting through to only a small minority. Far too many people, many (most?) who agree that Noah’s Ark is a fairy tale, still think there’s some sort of scientific controversy, and often repeat (without bothering to check) things like “I hear the jury’s still out on evolution.”

The strategy of keeping the discussion on what’s “weak” about evolution, while avoiding details, and thus the fatal weaknesses, of their mutually contradictory alternatives has been around for decades, but has peen perfected in the ID movement. Old-style YECs and OECs have their audiences, and both can be mostly dismissed as “beyond hope,” but the “don’t ask, don’t tell” strategists are successfully targeting those who are capable of knowing better, but lack the interest because science is just not a priority in our culture.

Frank J -

I personally suspect (but can’t prove, not being a mind reader) that anyone who plays “don’t ask, don’t tell” privately knows that the entire mainstream timeline, and common descent, if not all of evolution, is the only explanation that makes sense. But they can’t admit that because of a prior commitment to the big tent.

This is obvious, because as I’ve mentioned several times, the only coherent reason to oppose the theory of evolution is a belief that everyone must accept YEC or be damned.

Otherwise, if some portions of any or all translations of the Bible can be interpreted as symbolic or metaphorical, acceptance of the theory of evolution is no more sinful than belief in anything else that deviates from a “literal interpretation of Genesis”.

There’s simply no logical advantage to any sort of “OEC” position. If a “literal reading of Genesis” is required for salvation, it won’t save you, and if a “literal reading of Genesis” is not required for salvation, there’s no religious advantage for denying scientific evidence.

(Note to anyone who may not be familiar with my posts - I’m not personally religious; I’m just making some logical points here.)

The bizarre “ID is friendly to theism” argument one sometimes sees on UD is completely contrary to all mainstream theological positions, including if not especially evangelical positions. It’s an argument against faith. It reduces the Christian God to some sort of idol who is required to show constant physical evidence of his existence and power.

harold Wrote:

This is obvious, because as I’ve mentioned several times, the only coherent reason to oppose the theory of evolution is a belief that everyone must accept YEC or be damned.

Otherwise, if some portions of any or all translations of the Bible can be interpreted as symbolic or metaphorical, acceptance of the theory of evolution is no more sinful than belief in anything else that deviates from a “literal interpretation of Genesis”.

There’s simply no logical advantage to any sort of “OEC” position. If a “literal reading of Genesis” is required for salvation, it won’t save you, and if a “literal reading of Genesis” is not required for salvation, there’s no religious advantage for denying scientific evidence.

But - and I’m getting deja vu too - there’s nothing special about the heliocentric YEC that’s a 20-th century concoction. Whether the others are “damned” or merely “expelled,” those who accept heliocentric YEC are themselves conceding some interpretations as metaphorical. Why not play it safe and go all the way to geocentrism or flat-earthism?

Meanwhile, OEC itself comes in several mutually-contradictory versions. AIUI, the “day-age” and “gap” versions have been vigorously defended as “the” literal interpretation of Genesis. Until the 20th century one or both was “the” creationism of the “educated” (while much of the “masses” presumably still favored geocentrism and flat-earthism). And AIUI, RTB even defends a more “progressive” timeline.

What most traditional creationists (not IDers) do seem to insist on is a literal “Adam & Eve” account of modern H. sapiens. They don’t really care what happened before that, or when, or which other species share common ancestors. And the “big tent” scam artists exploit that to the max.

Until the 20th century…

Actually “in the early 20th century” is probably more accurate. And it was much later (1980s?) that RTB and possibly other OEC groups reconciled old life as well as old earth with a “literal” interpretation.

“[Duke sez]’So, Cornelius, are you claiming that the maize mitochondrial genome is completely static and inert, that no recombination or re-arrangements can possibly occur?’

[to which Hunter replies]’No, I’m not saying that. In fact, my point is that it is, indeed, these mechanisms, more than mutation, that one might appeal to in order to explain how the de novo gene might have arisen.’”

See, it’s not mutation, it’s recombination and re-arrangement.

Pfffff.

Even if Hunter uses the term “mutation” to mean only “single DNA base replacement”, so what? Reshuffling the deck is still a natural occurence, no divine intervention intelligent design needed.

Loser.

fnxtr Wrote:

[to which Hunter replies]’No, I’m not saying that. In fact, my point is that it is, indeed, these mechanisms, more than mutation, that one might appeal to in order to explain how the de novo gene might have arisen.’”

I’m surprised that he used the word “mechanism” in the first place. When I ask evolution-deniers about their mechanism (for either species change or abiogenesis, & I’m always careful to distinguish between them) they usually say either “it’s not a mechanism” or “who says it has to be a mechanism?” It occurred to me that they must be defining mechanism as a necessarily “hands off” process, while I (a chemist) am merely defining it as a reaction sequence, regardless of how many “designers” might be the ultimate cause.

Whether the question involves a general “what happened when,” or some detail of the chemical reactions involved, IDers, will play whatever word games necessary to weasel out of even a testable hypothesis, let alone try to test it. But even with their word games they slip up sometimes. That’s it’s up to us to take the fumbled ball and run with it.

The reference to “mechanism” reminds me of this from Cicero, “On the Nature of the Gods” 1.8.19:

For with what eyes of the mind was your Plato able to see that workhouse of such stupendous toil, in which he makes the world to be modelled and built by God? What materials, what bars, what machines, what servants, were employed in so vast a work? How could the air, fire, water, and earth, pay obedience and submit to the will of the architect? From whence arose those five forms, of which the rest were composed, so aptly contributing to frame the mind and produce the senses? It is tedious to go through all, as they are of such a sort that they look more like things to be desired than to be discovered.

(translated by C.D. Yonge, London: H.G. Bohn, 1853; Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1997 isbn 1-57392-180-7)

It is tedious to go through all, as they are of such a sort that they look more like things to be desired than to be discovered.

Great line. Creationism in a nutshell.

[Ref. omitted - see post immediately above]

Cicero said:

“It is tedious to go through all, as they are of such a sort that they look more like things to be desired than to be discovered.”

Agreed. Now that was one smart dude. However, he could have gone on to say that, in all of the history of humanity, the thing that is most desired is often the least likely to be discovered.

Frank J -

But - and I’m getting deja vu too - there’s nothing special about the heliocentric YEC that’s a 20-th century concoction. Whether the others are “damned” or merely “expelled,” those who accept heliocentric YEC are themselves conceding some interpretations as metaphorical. Why not play it safe and go all the way to geocentrism or flat-earthism?

That is, of course, the exact logical extension of it all. I am sure we are in total agreement here, but I will still elaborate.

The message of the rank and file of the Freshwater/locals at Dover types) is basically pure religious/political authoritarianism. My paraphrase of how I interpret the attitude would be…

My interpretation may not be perfectly ‘literal’ or coherent, indeed may have many arbitrary aspects, but all others must accept my interpretation. One aspect of my interpretation is that it rejects the theory of evolution. It may or may not accept a round earth (I may or may not even know that the earth is round, or that parts of the Bible imply otherwise if interpreted ‘literally’), but the theory of evolution is something I define as a line in the sand. Indeed, you could even say that I have chosen to make rejection of the theory of evolution a major litmus test for sufficient loyalty to my interpretation. I’m also inclined to be very rigid about the age of the earth and universe, because I’m aware that biological evolution required time. However, any argument you advance that denies evolution and puts a magical cause in its place, as long as it is either overtly Christian or sufficiently vague, and not tied to anything ‘liberal’, is accepted as advancing my cause.

Basically, all ID and OEC is logically in service to this type of interpretation.

If it were possible to deviate from this and be saved, then, logically…

1) The least objectionable reason to deviate from literalism would be scientific evidence,

2) Insisting on a denial of scientific evidence would needlessly complicate the saving of educated sinners, and

3) Christian organizations would take little interest in funding “institutes” that do nothing to advance the faith or behavior within the historical ethical norms associated with Christianity, but merely deny science in a way that draws ridicule.

The only possible motivation for it all is service to an underlying ideology under which not only is evolution “not true”, but acceptance of the theory of evolution is not compatible with salvation.

harold Wrote:

The message of the rank and file of the Freshwater/locals at Dover types) is basically pure religious/political authoritarianism. My paraphrase of how I interpret the attitude would be…

I’m sure many of that set think that way, though I suspect that most have little interest in the age of earth or universe, as long as they can believe a fairly recent “Adam and Eve” origin of modern H. sapiens. But if salvation is the issue, then one can just convince oneself that that’s what happened, and that the contrary evidence is just a test of one’s faith. IOW take the Omphalos loophole.

While the activists do “serve” that mindset, some (FL?) have insisted that OECs and even TEs are not damned, and I have no reason not to take them at their word. Of course that means that, while they may not personally believe that OECs and TEs are damned, they make it easier for the rank-and-file to believe that. So if Go is like they claim, encouraging that belief is just as bad if not worse than the belief itself.

Since everyone seems to concentrate on Christians, I have to wonder if “Expelled” might have done a little better at the box office if they hadn’t chosen a Jewish spokesperson (Ben Stein). I mean, supposedly many of the rank-and-file think he’s just as dammed as us “Darwinists.”

Frank J -

Yes, they have painted themselves into amusing corners of illogic.

Of course that means that, while they may not personally believe that OECs and TEs are damned, they make it easier for the rank-and-file to believe that. So if Go is like they claim, encouraging that belief is just as bad if not worse than the belief itself.

Since everyone seems to concentrate on Christians, I have to wonder if “Expelled” might have done a little better at the box office if they hadn’t chosen a Jewish spokesperson (Ben Stein). I mean, supposedly many of the rank-and-file think he’s just as dammed as us “Darwinists.”

Well, you start with outright Wedge document claims that “Darwinism” is part of “materialism” and so forth, all of which clearly implies - indeed, more or less openly states - that acceptance of evolution leads to damnation. Indeed, that type of stuff tends to imply that allowing evolution to be taught may cause God to hit the United States with natural disasters and so on.

So you go to work screaming anti-evolution slogans.

But then some guy like me asks you outright if all people who accept evolution are damned to Hell.

And then you have a “stoning of disobedient children” moment. Part of you wants to say “Yes”, all your actions imply that part of you wants to say “Yes, and I like it that way”. But you can’t! Because if you say “yes”, some moderate Christian might be made less likely to vote for your guy, or some such thing. You can’t use language like “damned to Hell” in public. I can only imagine the frustration.

So you essentially contradict your whole enterprise by saying that people who accept evolution can be saved if they accept Jesus, too, which is what Frances Collins and the pope believe. But if you believed that, why in this world of sin and sorrow would you be wasting time attacking people who do nothing but accept scientific evidence? (By the way, not everybody engages in this contradictory step - Jack Chick is pretty firm that acceptance of evolution or an ancient earth leads to hellfire.)

Meanwhile, even though you claim on the internet that Jesus loves people who accept evolution, too, you go right on trying to jam science-denying dogma into taxpayer funded schools - implying that you either don’t believe what you said about salvation, or that you are just engaged in a Mad Hatter crusade against reason.

And then you run into that nasty constitution.

So now, it really gets amusingly complicated. You have to deny evolution - even though you’ve made the contradictory claim that acceptance of evolution is fine with Jesus, you have to deny it. You have to deny it because it’s “materialist” and “atheist” and blah blah blah and you weren’t really sincere when you said that it’s okay with Jesus, at least not at a deep level.

But now you’ve got a big problem. You’ve got to disguise that old time hellfire and brimstone creationism. You’ve got to take all the Jesus out, even though you’re ostensibly doing it for Jesus in the first place.

So you come up with “ID”, and you claim that it has no religious motivation, so that you can use it to sneak religion into schools.

And to really, really prove that it’s “not Christian”, you find a couple of right wing Jewish guys and maybe even a near-schizophrenic “agnostic” crackpot whom you can get to join your bandwagon.

And then, of course, the whole convoluted thing falls apart at every level in Dover. If it’s not religious, then it’s just obtuse and illogical denial of straightforward science for now apparent reason. But wait, everyone can see that the motivation IS religion!

And so, yes, you do end up in quite a bind. In order to please Jesus you have to get evolution out of schools, but in order to do that you have to dissemble, deceive, and deny Jesus!

The algorithm is simple - always deny biological evolution no matter what the evidence - but the output it produces is complex.

It’s interesting to see how Dembski’s blog has become increasingly YEC, with a good dose of Birtherism and AGW thrown into the mix. Perhaps it’s because the polarisation in US politics over the last few years: it’s more important to nail one’s colours to a clearly identifiable mast. The purpose seems to be to reinforce identity rather than to persuade the unindoctrinated.

Amadan -

it’s more important to nail one’s colours to a clearly identifiable mast

I really do think that’s what it’s ultimately all about, at least for a great many people.

Denying evolution has become one of several identifying issues for the rank and file of the “conservative movement”. Of interest, denying science or standard academic economics is the common denominator across a number of these identifying issues.

The religious identity they choose is secondary to their social and political agenda. They choose a religion that fits and use it to defend the morality of their stance.

They basically know that evolution is one of the things they have to deny if they want to “belong”. Evolution denial was probably cynically tolerated by the political right to appeal to religious fanatics and racists a few decades ago. But now it’s become a defining characteristic of the ideology.

This is why both scientific evidence, and arguments from sincere theologians that evolution is not in conflict with salvation, have zero impact.

Hence the confusion of the effort that I describe above. Because the real mentality right now is just “denying evolution is something I must do to maintain my group identity”. The association of evolution denial with Jesus is variously trumpeted or denied, depending on the circumstances.

It can be confusing to some, because the word “conservative” has multiple meanings. I’m talking here about that segment of the population that, say, reads or approves of Ann Coulter books.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on December 5, 2009 12:16 PM.

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