What Scientists Do and Creationists Don’t

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A favorite creationist mantra these days, and one you especially hear from young earthers, is that creationists and scientists both have the same facts, they just look at them differently. To laypeople that may sound reasonable. The handful of guys at Answers in Genesis look at the Grand Canyon and say it was formed by a flood about 4400 years ago when God got all pissed off at humans. The 24,000 members of the Geological Society of America (and virtually every member of the literally dozens of geological organizations listed at their web site*) look at the Grand Canyon and say it was formed over millions of years by natural processes that continue today.

Same facts; different conclusions. Some of us laypeople often hear these two positions and see them as equally valid positions on either side of a debate. But some of us scratch the surface, and it doesn’t take a very deep scratch to see a significant difference. Scientists do science and creationists don’t.

I’m currently making my way through the December 2010 Evolution: Education & Outreach, a special issue dealing with the teaching of phylogenetics. On page 507 in an article titled “How to Read a Phylogenetic Tree,” by Deborah A. McLennan, I came across the following. “…butterflies can be distinguished from cats and people because they have an exoskeleton made out of chitin (a tough, waterproof derivative of glucose).” This was one of those “how do they know that” moments for me. Having read Genetics for Dummies and other books in my efforts to start getting a handle on genetics, I’m really getting into how genetic relationships reveal evolutionary history. Could this be another one of those cases?

But first I wanted to at least know what chitin is. Wikipedia says it “is the main component of the cell walls of fungi, the exoskeletons of arthropods such as crustaceans.” Interesting enough. It also says in terms of function it’s comparable to the protein keratin, and that it has several useful medical and industrial applications. Neat-o! But what about evolution? Does evolution have anything to say about where this stuff came from?

Plugging “evolution of chitin” in Google returns a bunch of links, and the very first one I clicked on said, “[a]nalysis of a group of invertebrate proteins, including chitinases and peritrophic matrix proteins, reveals the presence of chitin-binding domains that share significant amino acid sequence similarity. The data suggest that these domains evolved from a common ancestor which may be a protein containing a single chitin-binding domain.” So it looks like these researchers have a pretty good idea about chitin’s history, and where it came from.

But the abstract also says that “comparisons indicated that invertebrate and plant chitin binding domains do not share significant amino acid sequence similarity, suggesting that they are not coancestral…We propose that the invertebrate and the plant chitin-binding domains share similar mechanisms for folding and saccharide binding and that they evolved by convergent evolution.”

So this research concludes that chitin in invertebrates evolved from a common ancestor, but invertebrate and plant chitin evolved independently.

Want to know more? how about a possible history of the stuff in humans traced all the way back “to the time of the bilaterian expansion (approx. 550 mya).” Furthermore, this paper documents some real twists and turns in chitin’s history: “The family expanded in the chitinous protostomes C. elegans and D. melanogaster, declined in early deuterostomes as chitin synthesis disappeared, and expanded again in late deuterostomes with a significant increase in gene number after the avian/mammalian split.” Someone has clearly done their homework!

This little exercise took me about 15 minutes, and I learned a little bit about chitin: what it is and got a glimpse into where it came from and how scientists are learning its history. Scientists doing science.

What do creationists say about chitin? I plugged the term in the search engine at Answers in Genesis and found an article called “What a Body!” by Professor Wolfgang Kuhn, who describes chitin as a “wonder substance” composed of protein and sugar. He further describes it as a “miracle body” and says that “even if we could produce chitin itself, all our modern technology would be unable to imitate this fine microstructure so as to make a sports car body out of it, for instance.”

What is the takeaway message of Kuhn’s article? “Next time you see this humble beetle, consider the incredible amount of programmed information needed just to construct this super-high-tech marvel, its outer coat. Such information is passed on generation after generation, silent testimony to the Master Programmer.”

Creationism is so easy! When the earth is only a few thousand years old, and plants, animals, everything on earth has no real history or past different from the present, it’s enough to call things “wonder substance” and “miracle body”. Poof! God did it… class dismissed.

I’ve often read creationists complain about the amounts of funding real scientists receive and how much is distributed by the NIH and the NSF. If only creationists had this kind of funding, they could do amazing research! But would they?

Answers in Genesis, perhaps the most visible and well-funded anti-evolution organization in the country, spent approximately $27 million building its creation “museum” in Kentucky. AiG is presently raising money for their latest venture, a Noah’s Ark theme park, estimated to cost $24.5 million when completed. I have a suggestion for Ken Ham and the folks at AiG. Why not spend a fraction of that 24 and a half million to actually do a scientific experiment? For instance: build a real ark, fill it with animals just like Noah is claimed to have done and float it out in the ocean for a year to test the hypothesis. Think of all the converts that would win when it worked! Hell, I’d get saved myself!

I emailed Dr. John Hawks at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and asked him about funding scientific research and he replied, “Last year NIH spent $8 million on the Cancer Genome Atlas, bringing it to a total of $43 million. This project works on the principle that cancer cells are engaged in an evolutionary process in the body that will often be convergent in different people, so that building a systematic atlas of the genes involved will help us understand and find effective strategies to treat different cancers.”

So for less than the cost of two huge, embarrassing testaments to ignorance and misinformation AiG could have funded something like the entire Cancer Genome Atlas. But then again, at the creation “museum” they have a Triceratops with a saddle!

It’s clear that for a fraction of what the creationist organizations spend on propaganda, they could easily fund lab work and research to publish evidence of their claims. But what they do publish is nothing more than distortions of real research. PZ Myers exposes a typical example about, coincidentally, chitin.

Even some lower-tier creationists pull down some pretty serious dough. Eric Hovind, son of federal prison inmate and notorious huckster Kent Hovind, is raising $1.5 million to make a film about the book of Genesis. In the 2011 Winter issue of his publication Creation Today, Son of Hovind claims he’s raised over $255,000.

Well, Eric Hovind has a high tech studio he makes his videos in, and I bet he has a few computers around there. What more does he need? Reed Cartwright, Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, tells me, “For a lot of computational genomics research, the data is already available and the only costs are for computers and salaries. And purchasing time on supercomputers is currently cheap.” So here’s another suggestion: Why doesn’t Hovind fund a couple of creationist geneticists to do some research when his computers are otherwise unoccupied? I’m sure he’d discover that every species on earth went through a genetic bottleneck about 4400 years ago that reduced the entire population to just two individuals … on a boat. Right, Eric?

Opportunities abound for creationists to fund real scientific research. Nick Matzke sent me this link. Use the Award Search feature and spend a few minutes checking out all the great research done on much smaller budgets than a theme park, or feature length film production.

Maybe scientists and creationists have the same facts. But if they do, it’s because one of those groups actually cared enough about truth to find out what the facts were. It’s not the creationists. Only one of those groups selfishly obsesses over their personal beliefs to the point of ignoring and distorting legitimate scientific research to further a social and theological agenda. And it’s not the scientists.

Note: As has been pointed out to me, what I have discovered in these papers is research on the evolution of chitin-binding proteins, not chitin itself. This layperson has learned that chitin is made from and digested by proteins that do evolve, and that’s what the research I found was all about.

* I say ‘virtually’ because with the tens, or hundreds, of thousands of members across all those organizations there are probably a couple of young-earthers. But I’ll bet you can’t find one geologist, anywhere, who thinks the earth is six thousand years old who doesn’t regard the Bible (or whatever their favorite holy text is) as without error.

(Finally, this piece is cross-posted to my brand new blog, sciencedenial.com, so come on over to my place and give me some of your Internet love, you bunch of bad low motor scooters.)

85 Comments

AiG is presently raising money for their latest venture, a Noah’s Ark theme park, estimated to cost $24.5 million when completed.

Notice how the creationists lack the faith to put the ark in the water.

Karen S. said:

AiG is presently raising money for their latest venture, a Noah’s Ark theme park, estimated to cost $24.5 million when completed.

Notice how the creationists lack the faith to put the ark in the water.

But of course; that would reveal some facts of nature with implicit consequences quite unbearable for the average creationist - and the ivory castles would all be tumbling down.

Would the river Funds be drying up?

Sorry about typing inside the quote…

Notice how the creationists lack the faith to put the ark in the water.

Given that their fundraising is currently mired at about $4 million, it would seem that creationists have a distinct lack of faith in Ken Ham’s latest for-profit money-making scheme.

It’s also true that one would think there should be no shortage of funds for a creationist-based program of research in some private university institution somewhere in the USA. After all, there are several billionaire creationist types and no doubt a good number of sympathetic multimillionaires. Yet there doesn’t seem to be any appetite for pumping money in to creationist research at all – not even intelligent design, which at least pretends to be real science.

The thing is, if there was any merit to creationism at all, and thus real benefit to funding research programs, there would be no end to the gravy train that creationists would tap into, since there would be no better way to prove the Bible correct than to overturn the scientific orthodoxy of the past 150 years.

So, the deafening silence from the would-be funding sources is very telling. There just isn’t anything for them to fund.

Skip,

I’m pretty sure that the first paper to which you linked deals with the evolution of digestive enzymes and accessory molecules in the digestive system. Chitinases are enzymes that hydrolyze chitin and the peritrophic protein matrix is a complex of extracellular molecules that is secreted around food in the gut. It can include chitin fibers (carbohydrates) but the paper is referring to the proteins in the matrix rather than the carbohydrates. Have you read the rest of the paper? (I haven’t, so I’m just curious if there is something that they inferred that I missed from the abstract.) Do they infer indirectly about the evolution of chitin by studying the binding domains of proteins that digest it? That would be pretty cool.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/K.2IylVy2.ff[…]qM0Z0-#3d5d8 said:

Notice how the creationists lack the faith to put the ark in the water.

Given that their fundraising is currently mired at about $4 million, it would seem that creationists have a distinct lack of faith in Ken Ham’s latest for-profit money-making scheme.

It’s also true that one would think there should be no shortage of funds for a creationist-based program of research in some private university institution somewhere in the USA. After all, there are several billionaire creationist types and no doubt a good number of sympathetic multimillionaires. Yet there doesn’t seem to be any appetite for pumping money in to creationist research at all – not even intelligent design, which at least pretends to be real science.

The thing is, if there was any merit to creationism at all, and thus real benefit to funding research programs, there would be no end to the gravy train that creationists would tap into, since there would be no better way to prove the Bible correct than to overturn the scientific orthodoxy of the past 150 years.

So, the deafening silence from the would-be funding sources is very telling. There just isn’t anything for them to fund.

And the truly sad thing is, there have been creationists with lots of money who have tried to make creationist research programs.

And look at how they (i.e., Answers In Genesis, Institute for Creation Research, the Discovery Institute) have all turned out.

chriscaprette said:

Skip,

I’m pretty sure that the first paper to which you linked deals with the evolution of digestive enzymes and accessory molecules in the digestive system. Chitinases are enzymes that hydrolyze chitin and the peritrophic protein matrix is a complex of extracellular molecules that is secreted around food in the gut. It can include chitin fibers (carbohydrates) but the paper is referring to the proteins in the matrix rather than the carbohydrates. Have you read the rest of the paper? (I haven’t, so I’m just curious if there is something that they inferred that I missed from the abstract.) Do they infer indirectly about the evolution of chitin by studying the binding domains of proteins that digest it? That would be pretty cool.

I think you may be right. I read through a bunch of abstracts to get a handle on the topic and I may have gotten this one confused with another when I decided which to use.

My point, though, is that while scientists continue to research these topics and delve deep into the details of evolutionary history for plausible scenarios creationists do no original research, and only distort the work of real scientists, as in the case of the ICR distortion I link.

I’ll look up the first one I looked at and see if I can find the proper details.

Skip,

I haven’t read the rest of the paper, but I took “[t]he data suggest that these domains evolved from a common ancestor which may be a protein containing a single chitin-binding domain, to demonstrate at least scientists were doing actual research relevant to the topic while creationists do nothing but hijack real research for their own agenda.”

…but I did think the paper relevant to the topic of chitin.

Yes, the “domains” to which they refer are the regions of the enzyme chitinase (which hydrolyzes chitin) where chitin binds. Their paper appears to demonstrate the ancestry of chitin-digesting enzymes from a common ancestor. Which is in some way relevant to chitin.

To me, the really cool thing about considering chitin in evolution is who has it and who doesn’t: various protist lineages, fungi, nearly all protostome animals, but not AFAIK sponges or cnidarians. I’m not sure about various flatworms. Anyway, it appears that chitin may not have been present in the ancestral metazoans but shows up higher in the tree. If that is correct then, were the genes controlling chitin synthesis present but inactive ancestrally? Did they evolve de novo, perhaps coopted from other functions through gene duplication? Were they acquired through lateral (horizontal) gene transfer? To the point of your post: these are really interesting questions (assuming that my premise above is correct) of the sort that the creationists will never attempt to answer but that evolutionary biologists address all the time. Creationist will never attempt to address them because they do not accept the legitimacy of phylogenetic trees or in the case of YECs and many OECs common descent with modification. Othere OECs might accept it but won’t research it because researching evolution (even “within kind” evolution) is too close to challenging their faith.

It is pretty clear that the reason that the well-funded creationists at the DI and AIG do not fund legitimate scientific research is because they know that such research will undermine their positions (particularly since every paper by biochemists that is purported to support ID has instead either supported evolutionary processes or not even addressed the question) and that the people that send them money know little science and understand less of what they know. Thus for them the question becomes “Why bother?” After all, they can create entertainment parks that reinforce faith while pretending to have the backing of science to which the gullible will flock towing the next generation of little soldiers for their faith. They can even convince governments to give them big tax breaks on their projects.

So, the deafening silence from the would-be funding sources is very telling. There just isn’t anything for them to fund.

But they do love to whine about the lack of funding. It’s their excuse for not doing anything.

…they know that such research will undermine their positions…

And that is another great point I was trying to get at with the piece. Interesting enough, though, they’ll point to certain mutations, like genes getting turned off by regulatory mechanisms, that result in some apparent loss of phenotype, to support their claim that evolution can only “lose” things.

But in all the papers I was scanning putting this post together I ran into the gene duplication left and right.

If you Google ‘chitin evolution’ you do find all kinds of papers researching the topics you mentioned in your first post, and they cite gene duplication and divergence all over the place.

Skip Wrote:

A favorite creationist mantra these days, and one you especially hear from young earthers, is that creationists and scientists both have the same facts, they just look at them differently. To laypeople that may sound reasonable.

Actually we hear that at least as much from IDers and those OECs who have not yet sought shelter in ID’s big tent. A more important tactic that creationists of all “kinds” use, and one that I think would be even more obvious to laypeople as an unacceptable double standard - if we alert them to it - is that creationists nearly always get “amnesia” about other “kinds” of creationists whenever they pull the “same evidence(s), different interpretation” nonsense. Most OECs and IDers will admit that “flood geology” is nonsense. But rarely will they volunteer it.

Good morning

I’m a structural engineer and my hobby is naval history.

Even the biggest of the 5,000-6,000-ton wooden battleships of the mid- to late 19th century and the 5,000-ton wooden motorships constructed in the United States during World War I did not exceed 340 feet in length or 60 feet in width. The longest of these ships, the Mersey-class frigates (335 feet by 60 feet) , were unsuccessful, and one, HMS Orlando, showed signs of structural failure after an 1863 voyage to the United States. The Orlando was scrapped in 1871 and the Mersey soon after. Both the Mersey-class frigates and the largest of the wooden battleships, the 121-gun Victoria class, required internal iron strapping to support the hull, as did many other ships of this kind. In short, the construction and use histories of these ships indicated that they were already pushing or had exceeded the practical limits for the size of wooden ships.” (Asia’s Undersea Archeology, Richard Gould, NOVA, PBS Television article)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_world’s_largest_wooden_ships

Ken Ham’s Noah’s Ark (450×75 ft) will be a large wooden building on solid ground and will have to meet structural design codes for public safety. They have hired The Troyer Group has expertise in architectural, engineering, interior design, landscape http://www.troyergroup.com/pages/co[…]teInfo/news/

So for eight Goat Herders (and 70 years) to build a boat from Gopher Wood it seems god would indeed need to work another miracle.

A favorite creationist mantra these days, and one you especially hear from young earthers, is that creationists and scientists both have the same facts, they just look at them differently.

That is one of their more common lies.

What they do is ignore the vast majority of the data and facts and twist and distort a few of them.

Mostly they are deliberately unaware of what the actual data is because they don’t need or want to know.

Paul Hunter said: So for eight Goat Herders (and 70 years) to build a boat from Gopher Wood it seems god would indeed need to work another miracle.

This is just one of the many necessary miracles that prove the falsity of the Noah’s Ark myth - once you have to invoke a miracle to make something work, it’s no longer in the realm of science.

It’s clear that for a fraction of what the creationist organizations spend on propaganda, they could easily fund lab work and research to publish evidence of their claims. But what they do publish is nothing more than distortions of real research.

It’s much worse than just creationist propaganda.

The US churches take in around 90 billion dollars a year. That is a lot. The entire budget for NIH is around 31 billion dollars a year.

The amount of that 90 billion USD spent on creationist science research is about zero. Creationism is a science stopper not a science enabler. At some level, they must know creationist research is an oxymoron and isn’t going to prove anything except they are wrong.

AiG is presently raising money for their latest venture, a Noah’s Ark theme park, estimated to cost $24.5 million when completed.

It’s been reported that they are having trouble raising that money. So far they have stalled out at $4 million.

This Ark Park is supposed to be a profit making theme park. If so, why do they need to hit the members up for donations? Sort of a contradiction here and maybe the brighter among them have figured that out.

It is this simple: Young-Earth anti-evolutionists and [Supernatural] “Intelligent Design” theorists both like to pretend and assert (implicitly if not explicitly) that professionally-active scientists who today seriously doubt evolution stack-up against professionally-active scientists who today accept evolution the way that SIX-OF-ONE stacks-up against HALF-A-DOZEN of the other – when in actual fact the con-evolution scientists today stack-up against the pro-evolution scientists the way that HALF-OF-ONE stacks-up against SIX-DOZEN-OF-THE-OTHER (that is, on the order of 0.83% vs. 99.17%)!

That of course does not make the majority right, but it does render severely errant the [mis]representation of con-pro opinion-parity among professionally active scientists today on the question the efficacy of evolution to produce naturally the diversity of life that Earth presently hosts and has hosted.

– Frank Lovell [I don’t know why I am characterized here as “masked”]

https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/[…]mQEe-yFB5ZBM said:

It is this simple: Young-Earth anti-evolutionists and [Supernatural] “Intelligent Design” theorists both like to pretend and assert (implicitly if not explicitly) that professionally-active scientists who today seriously doubt evolution stack-up against professionally-active scientists who today accept evolution the way that SIX-OF-ONE stacks-up against HALF-A-DOZEN of the other – when in actual fact the con-evolution scientists today stack-up against the pro-evolution scientists the way that HALF-OF-ONE stacks-up against SIX-DOZEN-OF-THE-OTHER (that is, on the order of 0.83% vs. 99.17%)!

You’re so right. As Joe Garagiola put it, it’s half of one, six dozen of the other.

Creationists missed a big opportunity to do science when radioactivity was discovered. They could have had whole labs coming up with new ways to use radioactivity to age rocks and strata as well as organic materials and to prove how young the earth was. Instead, they don’t do any of the science, even now, and just snipe, cherry-pick and misrepresent people doing real science. Where are all the YEC dating labs and geochronologists?

It is possible though that there were some young earth folks who started work on this, and soon realized the earth was ancient so changed their beliefs to match the evidence.

Karen S. said:

AiG is presently raising money for their latest venture, a Noah’s Ark theme park, estimated to cost $24.5 million when completed.

Notice how the creationists lack the faith to put the ark in the water.

Or to stock it with two of each kind– or even definitively identify all the “kinds”.

Where are all the YEC dating labs and geochronologists?

These things are relatively expensive. It is much less expensive to make unsupported claims about radiometric dating while misusing scientific language to convey the impression of authority. Note that authority is important here. To creationists, everything is based upon faith in authority while science requires evidence and testing.

chriscaprette said:

Where are all the YEC dating labs and geochronologists?

These things are relatively expensive. It is much less expensive to make unsupported claims about radiometric dating while misusing scientific language to convey the impression of authority. Note that authority is important here. To creationists, everything is based upon faith in authority while science requires evidence and testing.

It’s also more cost-efficient to send your YEC-garbage to someone else’s lab, like that fraud Austin.

Daniel said: Creationists missed a big opportunity to do science when radioactivity was discovered.

Creationist Walt “Hydroplate” Brown has hypothesized that all radioactive materials in the entire universe were created by massive lightning strikes on earth during Noah’s Flood. And then he complains nobody takes him seriously.

They don’t need to do the funding schtick for research, they don’t do research as noted herein. What they excel at is spinning their ‘tails’ based on their ‘holey’ factual good book that people are so desperate to believe in as the literal truth of god. They don’t need evidence per se, as scientists do, and they resent any effort to discredit their beliefs in these silly museums, arks, etc. Revelation by wackos suffices for them, and it’s a win/win situation for them as they can dismiss science as simply anti-religion rhetoric by the atheist crowd.

Just Bob said:

Karen S. said:

AiG is presently raising money for their latest venture, a Noah’s Ark theme park, estimated to cost $24.5 million when completed.

Notice how the creationists lack the faith to put the ark in the water.

Or to stock it with two of each kind– or even definitively identify all the “kinds”.

Or build it without electrical interior lighting and air-conditioning.

Or nails, or power tools, or electricity.

prongs said:

Just Bob said:

Karen S. said:

AiG is presently raising money for their latest venture, a Noah’s Ark theme park, estimated to cost $24.5 million when completed.

Notice how the creationists lack the faith to put the ark in the water.

Or to stock it with two of each kind– or even definitively identify all the “kinds”.

Or build it without electrical interior lighting and air-conditioning.

Or nails, or power tools, or electricity.

And with only a handful of workers, eating only a period- and region-appropriate diet.

And collecting or summoning all the critters with those same 8 workers. It’s perfectly clear from multiple evidences in the Bible that the world was much smaller then, and flat.

prongs said:

Just Bob said:

Karen S. said:

AiG is presently raising money for their latest venture, a Noah’s Ark theme park, estimated to cost $24.5 million when completed.

Notice how the creationists lack the faith to put the ark in the water.

Or to stock it with two of each kind– or even definitively identify all the “kinds”.

Or build it without electrical interior lighting and air-conditioning.

Or nails, or power tools, or electricity.

On the other hand, it’s not (just) that creationists lack faith, it’s also that they can’t go down to Home Depot and buy “gopherwood.”

And collecting or summoning all the critters with those same 8 workers. It’s perfectly clear from multiple evidences in the Bible that the world was much smaller then, and flat.

Actually, that’s the one point I’ve never heard a creationist try to give a “natural” explanation for. They always say, at least from what I’ve heard, that God brought the animals to the ark.

Of course, once you bring one miracle into the story, why would you even try to claim the rest of it is “scientific”?

Just Bob said:

prongs said:

Just Bob said:

Karen S. said:

AiG is presently raising money for their latest venture, a Noah’s Ark theme park, estimated to cost $24.5 million when completed.

Notice how the creationists lack the faith to put the ark in the water.

Or to stock it with two of each kind– or even definitively identify all the “kinds”.

Or build it without electrical interior lighting and air-conditioning.

Or nails, or power tools, or electricity.

And with only a handful of workers, eating only a period- and region-appropriate diet.

And collecting or summoning all the critters with those same 8 workers. It’s perfectly clear from multiple evidences in the Bible that the world was much smaller then, and flat.

Speaking of which, you see creationists often invoking magic, hyper-evolution in order to better stuff animals into the Ark, yet, they never cite any studies or examples of this happening.

I wonder why none of these particular creationists have ever bothered to demonstrate this magical form of evolution. Building an ark would be a good way to test this hypothesis of theirs, yes?

Skip said:

Of course, once you bring one miracle into the story, why would you even try to claim the rest of it is “scientific”?

Because they said God said it’s “scientific,” that’s why, and we’re obligated to believe them under pain of eternal damnation, because they said God said so. [/tongue in cheek]

prongs said:

Paul Hunter said:

Good morning

I’m a structural engineer and my hobby is naval history.

This past summer and fall, CMI sponsored a fellow around the US who calls himself “The Ark Man”. He claims to able to answer every question about the ‘Ark’.

I wish you could have reported on one of his presentations, and asked fitting questions from the audience.

His graphic of the ‘Ark’ is laughable: http://creation.com/rod-walsh-2011-[…]-eastern-usa

It’s a big wooden box, with big wooden cranes, that wouldn’t be invented for another 2,000 years. Unbelievable that people believe this stuff.

I once got into an argument with this one creationist who insisted that Noah and his three sons singlehandedly built the Ark over the course of 150 years (starting each day off with prayer, allegedly). Of course, she also sneered at the idea that most organisms don’t get an opportunity to fossilize, and also tried to send me to Hell for not believing that the last mammoths were killed and frozen by giant pieces of the magic ice canopy dome that encircled the globe prior to the Great Flood.

This past summer and fall, CMI sponsored a fellow around the US who calls himself “The Ark Man”. He claims to able to answer every question about the ‘Ark’.

Would that be Indiana Jones?

Robert Byers said:

Yes Sherlock Holmes can in his armchair figure things out better while using the info from others investigations. Why not?

Sherlock Holmes never existed; he’s a fictional construct that exercised implausible levels of induction as a plot device to sell pulps. You might as well appeal to Doc Savage or Batman. Even textual critics need to do their own investigations and not second-hand analyses. But if you think it’s fair to invoke fictional constructs, then I can say what you’re describing is precisely the decadent “science” of the waning Galactic Empire in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, where research consists of reviewing previous research only; causing their society to backslide and collapse into a dark age.

Its still saying here there can’t be criticisms of conclusions by investigators in these subjects unless one does like investigations.

It’s saying there can’t be a strong scientific criticism without such investigations backing the criticism. Nobody’s trying to say that YECs can’t “criticize” evolution/geology/astronomy/whatever you happen to be in disagreement over, but we are saying that such criticisms are so lacking in evidence-based argument and sound reasoning that they wind up being laughably wrong, and you shouldn’t expect anybody to change their minds about it until YECs can marshal some real science to make their case. You can keep your armchair critics going, but don’t pretend they’re deserving of respectable treatment simply because of making empty-headed assertions.

Creationism is rising in North America because of public agreement with the power of our criticisms of these old evolution ideas. A new world is coming.

Creationism is “rising” in North America, if it’s rising indeed (got any sources for an increasing trend over time?), because our STEM education is demonstrably lacking compared to our developed, industrialized, economic peers. Science literacy, which was once valued highly when it lead to moonwalks before the Commies, has been allowed to stagnate and decline. This means people are less able to make informed judgments in the “marketplace of ideas.” People are less well equipped to criticize from their armchairs. Public agreement with Creationism may very well correlate with reduced knowledge of what science even means. Is that what you are proud of? Is that the new world in which you want to live?

ksplawn said:

Creationism is rising in North America because of public agreement with the power of our criticisms of these old evolution ideas. A new world is coming.

Creationism is “rising” in North America, if it’s rising indeed (got any sources for an increasing trend over time?), because our STEM education is demonstrably lacking compared to our developed, industrialized, economic peers. Science literacy, which was once valued highly when it lead to moonwalks before the Commies, has been allowed to stagnate and decline. This means people are less able to make informed judgments in the “marketplace of ideas.” People are less well equipped to criticize from their armchairs. Public agreement with Creationism may very well correlate with reduced knowledge of what science even means. Is that what you are proud of? Is that the new world in which you want to live?

The rise of anti-intellectualism and anti-science sentiments is often tied to the rise of Creationism due to the fact that Creationists seek out to deliberately sabotage science education, inevitably using Jesus Christ allegedly hating smart people as an excuse to propagate stupidity.

Anyone else notice how Robert Byers again failed to explain why or how Young Earth Creationism is supposed to be a science?

What, you mean first clearly state his hypothesis, then describe some set of patterns that would be expected if his clearly stated hypothesis is correct, and the logic by which the hypothesis implies those patterns, and the logic by which those patterns would not be expected in combination if his hypothesis is incorrect?

Thou doth ask too much!

Henry

Henry J said:

Anyone else notice how Robert Byers again failed to explain why or how Young Earth Creationism is supposed to be a science?

What, you mean first clearly state his hypothesis,

Yes.

then describe some set of patterns that would be expected if his clearly stated hypothesis is correct,

Yes.

and the logic by which the hypothesis implies those patterns, and the logic by which those patterns would not be expected in combination if his hypothesis is incorrect?

Yes.

Thou doth ask too much!

Unfortunately, yes.

ksplawn Wrote:

Creationism is “rising” in North America, if it’s rising indeed (got any sources for an increasing trend over time?)

Allow me:

Per the most common (Gallup) poll, the % of adult Americans who choose “humans were created in their present form in the last 10,000 years” has been in the 40-45% range for 30 years, with no discernable direction. Note the vague wording of the answer, which would be selected by many OECs, and even some theistic evolutionists who “think souls, not cells.”

Another poll, which includes the “unsure” option, shows a significant increase, in recent decades, accompanied by roughly equal corresponding decreases in pro- and anti- evolution.

A 3rd recent poll, with specific young-Earth wording, shows only ~20% believe YEC. Remember that these are “people on the street” not career activists or Internet trolls, and thus rarely give 5 minutes’ thought to where the evidence converges. Many, like someone I worked with years ago, might say “I believe it in my heart, despite what the evidence says.”

The steady state, and the % YECs that’s lower than most people think may sound initially like good news, especially since it comes at a time when US interest and respect for science has been waning. But given the explosive increase of evidence for evolution, which has been steadily been winning over mainstream religions, the it’s actually bad news. It reflects the relentless propaganda from pseudoscience peddlers, who keep sharpening their rhetorical skills, and keeping the focus on “weaknesses” of evolution instead of the “strengths” of creationism that they know don’t exist.

The other straw that creationists cling on to is a basic appeal to fairness that most people find persuasive on a superficial level. “Teach both sides” they cry. Even in post-Christian Britain, where fewer than 10% of the population attend church on a regular basis, this call to let both sides have a stab at making their case on an equal footing garners well over 50% when polled.

But, of course, science isn’t American Idol. It’s not a popularity contest, otherwise we’d be teaching students how to read horoscopes, the merits of homeopathy, and the mechanics of hauntings along with physics, biology, and chemistry. Yet that is what creationists would have us do, if they had their way.

A Masked Panda (d5d8) Wrote:

The other straw that creationists cling on to is a basic appeal to fairness that most people find persuasive on a superficial level.

Reason # 4 billion (plus or minus) why I never use the word “creationist(s)” any more, unless my context indicates clearly which “kind” of evolution-denier I’m referring to:

~70% the public that falls for the “fairness” nonsense, and ~1/3 of them are not “creationists” in any sense of the word. Many are even scientists, as I was when I briefly fell for it in the ’90s, fully 30 years after accepting evolution.

Now if you mean the anti-evolution activists who peddle the “fairness” nonsense, as opposed to those who don’t give a minute’s thought beyond the feel-good sound bites, they have thought about it, and they know that it’s anything but fair. They know that students spend maybe 0.1% of their waking hours learning evolution, and can learn their misrepresentations almost anywhere else. They know that they, not “Darwinists,” are the ones effectively censoring information by demanding that their propaganda be taught in the one place that it has not earned right to be taught, and would have not earned that right even if there were no church-state issues.

In other words, to make things more fair, it’s best to reword the question as “Is it fair and balanced to teach politically motivated religious propaganda together with, or in place of science in a science classroom?”

It doesn’t sound nice, but, it’s much more fair and balanced than to lie about Creationism being an alternative to science.

apokryltaros said:

In other words, to make things more fair, it’s best to reword the question as “Is it fair and balanced to teach politically motivated religious propaganda together with, or in place of science in a science classroom?”

It doesn’t sound nice, but, it’s much more fair and balanced than to lie about Creationism being an alternative to science.

Beleve it or not, that’s still too sugar-coated for me. I would omit the “religious” because (1) most “non creationists” like “religious,” and (2) the courts have that aspect covered anyway.

Next, I would not say “together with” because, the propaganda would displace material that has actually earned the right to be taught. And it would displace it with catchy, but misleading sound bites that most students will remember long after forgetting all that counterintuitive “science stuff.” Let’s not forget that nearly every non-science-major already replaces what little evolution they learned with a common caricature almost immediately. Sound bites like “evolution has gaps,” “macroevolution is only a theory,” etc. will “stick” and worsen their misconceptions of evolution, and of how science is done.

That said, I do encourage all students to learn about ID/creationism, and how it is pure pseudoscience, using every trick in the book to mislead - cherry picking evidence, defining terms to suit the argument, baiting-and-switching concepts (e.g evolution with abiogenesis), quote mining, etc. The irony is that if ID/creationism/phony “critical analysis” is taught properly, separate from real science, and with “equal time” for mainstream science refutations, religious students will likely reject it as least as much as non-religious ones. For the simple reason of “thou shalt not bear false witness.”

What scientists do and evolution deniers don’t:

Produce clearly stated hypotheses.

Get their predictions by logically deriving them from the stated hypotheses (not merely by throwing out something they associate with the hypothesis).

Correct their mistakes they’ve made after others point them out.

Criticize each other when they think mistakes have been made.

Look for data contrary to their own hypothesis, not just the other guy’s.

Of course, some evolution deniers may sometimes do some of the above, it’s just not typical across the whole set of them.

Say, should we now have a topic going in the other direction? (i.e., things deniers do that scientists don’t)

We had some fun with this same topic a few years ago. The creationist trolls hated it.

No matter how one approaches ID/creationism, one finds that ID/creationism falls squarely and completely within the domain of pseudo-science; and the behaviors and activities of ID/creationist leaders are strictly those that contribute to the socio/political advancement of that pseudo-science.

Henry J said:

Say, should we now have a topic going in the other direction? (i.e., things deniers do that scientists don’t)

You mean things like blame their lack of progress, and or lack of success on a conspiracy (usually of evil scientists), or automatically dismiss or ignore contrary information as irrelevant, or demand that all others bow down in deference to their greatness?

apokryltaros said:

Henry J said:

Say, should we now have a topic going in the other direction? (i.e., things deniers do that scientists don’t)

You mean things like blame their lack of progress, and or lack of success on a conspiracy (usually of evil scientists), or automatically dismiss or ignore contrary information as irrelevant, or demand that all others bow down in deference to their greatness?

I think he means the active things they do, like quote mine, make propaganda movies, peddle ambiguous “dissent” statements etc. I was going to recommend such a companion thread.

@apokryltaros:

Sorry, I read your comment too quickly. Your examples are “active” too. They certainly do make up for the lack of explaining, testing, and publishing their “theories.”

ksplawn said:

Robert Byers said:

Yes Sherlock Holmes can in his armchair figure things out better while using the info from others investigations. Why not?

Sherlock Holmes never existed; he’s a fictional construct that exercised implausible levels of induction as a plot device to sell pulps. You might as well appeal to Doc Savage or Batman. Even textual critics need to do their own investigations and not second-hand analyses. But if you think it’s fair to invoke fictional constructs, then I can say what you’re describing is precisely the decadent “science” of the waning Galactic Empire in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, where research consists of reviewing previous research only; causing their society to backslide and collapse into a dark age.

Its still saying here there can’t be criticisms of conclusions by investigators in these subjects unless one does like investigations.

It’s saying there can’t be a strong scientific criticism without such investigations backing the criticism. Nobody’s trying to say that YECs can’t “criticize” evolution/geology/astronomy/whatever you happen to be in disagreement over, but we are saying that such criticisms are so lacking in evidence-based argument and sound reasoning that they wind up being laughably wrong, and you shouldn’t expect anybody to change their minds about it until YECs can marshal some real science to make their case. You can keep your armchair critics going, but don’t pretend they’re deserving of respectable treatment simply because of making empty-headed assertions.

Creationism is rising in North America because of public agreement with the power of our criticisms of these old evolution ideas. A new world is coming.

Creationism is “rising” in North America, if it’s rising indeed (got any sources for an increasing trend over time?), because our STEM education is demonstrably lacking compared to our developed, industrialized, economic peers. Science literacy, which was once valued highly when it lead to moonwalks before the Commies, has been allowed to stagnate and decline. This means people are less able to make informed judgments in the “marketplace of ideas.” People are less well equipped to criticize from their armchairs. Public agreement with Creationism may very well correlate with reduced knowledge of what science even means. Is that what you are proud of? Is that the new world in which you want to live?

We do and will change peoples minds. No problem. We do this on presenting evidence for our ideas and criticisms of the others. The success of modern creationism is from gaining more of a audience and simply more of us being involved and the comminication revolution of late.

We do say our investigations are not one whit inferior to our opponents and even better as we start from more sure assumptions. If we are right it will be a better world. If wrong everyone will at least of sharpened their wits on issues normally of interest only in small circles. Origin contentions must be and will possibly in the future be seen as agent for change in interests in science as its called. I think so. I never had any interest in sciences at all and not am quite thoughtful on certain subjects. Not the only one.

Frank J said:

ksplawn Wrote:

Creationism is “rising” in North America, if it’s rising indeed (got any sources for an increasing trend over time?)

Allow me:

Per the most common (Gallup) poll, the % of adult Americans who choose “humans were created in their present form in the last 10,000 years” has been in the 40-45% range for 30 years, with no discernable direction. Note the vague wording of the answer, which would be selected by many OECs, and even some theistic evolutionists who “think souls, not cells.”

Another poll, which includes the “unsure” option, shows a significant increase, in recent decades, accompanied by roughly equal corresponding decreases in pro- and anti- evolution.

A 3rd recent poll, with specific young-Earth wording, shows only ~20% believe YEC. Remember that these are “people on the street” not career activists or Internet trolls, and thus rarely give 5 minutes’ thought to where the evidence converges. Many, like someone I worked with years ago, might say “I believe it in my heart, despite what the evidence says.”

The steady state, and the % YECs that’s lower than most people think may sound initially like good news, especially since it comes at a time when US interest and respect for science has been waning. But given the explosive increase of evidence for evolution, which has been steadily been winning over mainstream religions, the it’s actually bad news. It reflects the relentless propaganda from pseudoscience peddlers, who keep sharpening their rhetorical skills, and keeping the focus on “weaknesses” of evolution instead of the “strengths” of creationism that they know don’t exist.

This is my and lots of YEC creationists perceptions also. We always only see our selves as a small minority between 10-20%. Those who say Genesis is smack on accurate. After this is divisions of those hostile to evolution as true but still don’t like Noah. Then others who want a god seriously involved in mans creation but not nature etc. It seems half the pop in the US will continue to say NAW to evolution in many ways. Yet a solid 3/4 will accept both sides in schools. They see it as reasonable, freedom of thought, and creationism as historic and worthy of equality.

Creationists of all tribes are confident our numbers would increase and our present support be made more solid if there was greater access to the public. We think a majority would become solidly anti-evolution if they heard our best case. the numbers are telling when one understands how every medium of public information , entertainment, whatever is absolutely pro evolution and prohibitive of creationism save for sound bites. Small bites at that. Still we progress and are quite healthy and ambitious.

Evolutionism fails to make a persuasive case to middle class people. Upper class presume evolution is true as they presume their class knows better and the lower class is generally submissive to authority.

Evolutionism fails to make a persuasive case because they don’t have a case thats persuasive. Its been a grand error of a hunch.

Robert Byers said:

We do say our investigations are not one whit inferior to our opponents and even better as we start from more sure assumptions.

What investigations? Creationists do no investigations. Please give some concrete examples of creationists investigating the natural world, or you are lying.

If we are right it will be a better world. If wrong everyone will at least of sharpened their wits on issues normally of interest only in small circles.

Bullshit, Robert Byers. Creationists have already left their mark in America by fomenting science illiteracy and anti-science sentiment. And yet, people wonder why jobs are leaving the US. But, you don’t care, because you allegedly live in Canada.

I never had any interest in sciences at all and not am quite thoughtful on certain subjects.

This is the only truthful thing you’ve ever said here. You do not have any interests in sciences at all. All you are interested in is whining at us to believe your idiotic, inane, and idiotically inane false claims that Young Creationism is somehow a science magically better than actual science.

Robert Byers said:

This is my and lots of YEC creationists perceptions also. We always only see our selves as a small minority between 10-20%. Those who say Genesis is smack on accurate.

So where are all the investigations into proving the accuracy of the Book of Genesis? Oh, wait, no, there are none, and you’re just repeating lies at us.

It seems half the pop in the US will continue to say NAW to evolution in many ways.

Then why are there ZERO industries based on Young Creationism? Why is that? Why are there no agricultural businesses based off a literal reading of the Bible? Why are there no geological industries based off of Genesis?

Why is that, Robert Byers? Are you too cowardly to answer, too stupid to answer, or too cowardly and too stupid to answer?

Yet a solid 3/4 will accept both sides in schools. They see it as reasonable, freedom of thought, and creationism as historic and worthy of equality.

Except that teaching religious propaganda in place of science, in science classes of schools is illegal in the United States, as according to the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution.

Creationists of all tribes are confident our numbers would increase and our present support be made more solid if there was greater access to the public.

You are not only ignorant of Evolution, Science, and Reality, but you are also ignorant of Creationism’s active history of spreading propaganda.

Evolutionism fails to make a persuasive case to middle class people. Upper class presume evolution is true as they presume their class knows better and the lower class is generally submissive to authority.

Stupid and bigoted statements like this were what got you banned at Pharyngula.

Evolutionism fails to make a persuasive case because they don’t have a case thats persuasive.

You only say this because you are invincibly stupid. If you ever bothered to take an interest in learning about science, you wouldn’t make such a moronic statement.

But, oh, wait, you already said you aren’t interested, at all, in learning about the sciences.

Its been a grand error of a hunch.

Then why is Evolution the foundation of understanding Biology for the past 150 years? Then why is Evolution the root of so many vital industries?

Oh, wait, no, you only say this because you are a lying idiot parroting the lies your spiritual handlers told you to parrot.

Frank J said:

@apokryltaros:

Sorry, I read your comment too quickly. Your examples are “active” too. They certainly do make up for the lack of explaining, testing, and publishing their “theories.”

And as Robert Byers demonstrate, deniers like to whine alot, lie alot, and make a lot of whiny lies.

You’re a sad and pitiable person, Byers.

The man you call God told you that the truth would set you free, but you prefer enslavement. Well, your choice. But nobody put you in that prison cell. You built it yourself, Byers, stone by stone. You installed the bars, you made the locks, you put yourself in it, and you tried to throw away the key - but you can’t throw it away, Byers. It’s still there, right by your hand. You can’t lose it. You can only ignore it.

But go ahead. Babble your delusions that someday you and your fellow-prisoners will someday run the jail, Byers. It’ll never happen, because there is no jail, Byers. No warders, no governor, no sentence, nothing but the cells you’ve made for yourselves. Everyone else is free, Byers, and nobody cares about your little penitentiary.

Pitiful. So you have my pity, Byers, even as you whisper your lies. You’re only lying to yourself. You even have it while you try to drag other people’s children into cells like your own, because you won’t succeed, Byers. Cling to your delusions, if you like. Trumpet your hallucinations of success. They only show how lost to reality you are, and one must show charity to the afflicted.

Savour your failure, Byers, and be grateful for it. For if you or the other inmates ever succeeded in building cells for others, and started trying to lock people into them, you’d forfeit that charity. And you would not enjoy the results.

Robert Byers said: Creationists of all tribes are confident our numbers would increase and our present support be made more solid if there was greater access to the public.

Good grief… How much more ‘access to the public’ is there? There are churches everywhere–far more than the number of schools. There are religious billboards left and right. When was the last time anyone saw a *scientific* billboard? Religious organizations have radio and TV networks. There aren’t any networks devoted to science. Preachers are all over general TV and radio channels. With the amount of access Creationists of all stripes have now, the failure to have less than 100% on your side would be astonishing were it not for the fact that anyone with a working synapse can see it’s all bullshit.

Nobody is stopping you from getting your message out there, there’s just no one that will guarantee that anyone will pay attention to it, let alone believe it.

–W. H. Heydt

Old Used Programmer

Robert wrote:

“We do and will change peoples minds. No problem. We do this on presenting evidence for our ideas and criticisms of the others.”

OK. I’m waiting. Convince me. Go ahead, present your evidence.

See the thing is Robert, in the last two years, you have whined about evidence two hundred and seventeen times and have never once presented any evidence. I’m waiting. Show me peer reviewed evidence from scientific journals that YEC is correct, the earth is only thousands of years old and there was a world wide flood a few thousands years ago. If you can’t do this then you are just lying. Is that really what you want people to know?

What Robert is probably referring to is the kind of ways to change people’s mind my good buds Larry and Kevin the Creationists do every Saturday (during the season) the Farmers Market is open in downtown Madison. They’re there every Saturday with their hilarious display, handing out tracts by AiG, ICR and yes, even Kent Hovind. Check out my original post on these two bufoons here:

http://sciencedenial.com/my-first-e[…]-with-larry/

It’s truly an eye opener!

Frank J recommended: That said, I do encourage all students to learn about ID/creationism, and how it is pure pseudoscience, using every trick in the book to mislead - cherry picking evidence, defining terms to suit the argument, baiting-and-switching concepts (e.g evolution with abiogenesis), quote mining, etc. The irony is that if ID/creationism/phony “critical analysis” is taught properly, separate from real science, and with “equal time” for mainstream science refutations, religious students will likely reject it as least as much as non-religious ones. For the simple reason of “thou shalt not bear false witness.”

You have my attention. But surely you realize that the creationist literature can sound very compelling to a 12-year-old kid. What do you recommend specifically? Walk through the YEC claims with them, one by one? Require reading of mainstream science texts? Instruct them in logical fallacies? Bookmark on their browser the Talk Origins Index to Creationist Claims? Keep reminding them that the Bible is compatible with evolution?

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Skip published on December 26, 2011 7:00 AM.

Thoughts on the first three chapters of Dembski and Witt’s “Intelligent Design Uncensored” was the previous entry in this blog.

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