The folks at Uncommon Descent are accusing me of being a Nazi (âNick Matzke - Book Burner?â, âWill Our Darwinist Friends Be Telling Us Next That âArbeit Macht Freiâ?â, It Gets Even Better) for using my free-speech rights to criticize the prestigious publisher Springer for publishing crypto-creationist/ID meeting held at Cornell (but not sponsored by Cornell) in 2011. They seem to think that I, single-handedly, with the mighty power of the Pandaâs Thumb blog, crushed the otherwise inevitable publication by Springer.
Recently in Evolution of Creationism Category
Update, February 4, 2013. NCSE has just reported that the Colorado bill has failed to make it out of committee. First in the nation, for this year at least! Unhappily, the vote was 7-6, which is entirely too close for comfort.
January is barely gone, the groundhog may or may not have seen his shadow, and the National Center for Science Education reports that already 8 anti-science bills have been filed in 6 states: Colorado, Missouri (two bills), Montana, Oklahoma (two bills), Arizona, and Indiana.
As Barbara Forrest notes, âCreationists never give up.â The bills have been carefully sanitized, but all will allow teachers to teach the purported strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories, most commonly âbiological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.â According to NCSE, the bills are also generally âprotectiveâ in that they forbid state and local authorities to prohibit such teaching. The bills pretend to foster debate, but the language is clearly code words for creationism.
Scientific American has posted what you might call a compendium of articles on evolution â some from the archives, some brand new.
The featured articles include a new article by Lauri Lebo, who details the manner in which creationists hide their true intentions by using code words such as âhelping students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.â Indeed, in a display that gives chutzpah a bad name, they invoke the name of John Scopes, because he stood up for academic freedom.
By now everyone has heard how the pro-terrorism group Revolution Muslim threatened South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker by stating âthey will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh,â posting a picture of the murdered film director, and helpfully including their addresses at South Park studios, and the address of Comedy Centralâs offices. The threat was issued after South Parkâs episode â200â in which all the people that South Park ever made fun of, led by Tom Cruise, teamed up to get back at the town. To protect themselves from the ridicule of South Park citizens, they plotted to capture Muhammad and steal his secret ability to not be made fun of. To avoid breaking the rule against depicting the prophet Muhammad, Stone & Parker dressed Muhammad up in a bear suit.
(Never mind that Muhammad had co-starred sans censorship in the 2001 episode âSuper-Best Friendsâ, since played as a rerun hundreds of times without controversy, and that Muhammad appeared hundreds of more times amongst the other Super-Best Friends in post-2001 intro graphics for the show.)
After the threat was issued, and after Comedy Central began to kowtow to the terrorists by increasing the censorship of the show, the sequel episode â201â revealed that it had not been Muhammad in a bear suit after all, but Santa Claus. Despite the complete non-depiction of Muhammad in the show (in the non-bear-costume shots, Muhammad had been hidden behind a CENSORED box), Comedy Central has now taken even the censored version of episode 201, and the old Super-Best Friends episode, off its website.
Anyway, whatâs the connection to evolution? Well, I was watching a CNN discussion which featured a clip scrolling through RevolutionMuslim.comâs blogposts. Hereâs the cowardly âkill people who disagreeâ (Iâm paraphrasing, obviously) postâ¦
Just last week over at the Thinking Christian blog there was a huge stink raised over the alleged inappropriateness of linking ID to creationism. After much argument the anti-linkage people more or less conceded that there were some good reasons to link ID to a somewhat generic definition of creationism (relying on special creation), but still protested loudly about how inappropriate it was to make the linkage, because most people (allegedly) would assume that creationism = young-earth creationism, and linking ID to young-earth creationism was oh-so-wildly unfair.
Well, itâs now a week later, and, what do you know, but right there on the latest blogpost on William Dembskiâs Uncommon Descent is a big fat advertisement for a straight-up young-earth creationist conference. And who is endorsing the conference? Dean Kenyon, Discovery Institute fellow, coauthor of Of Pandas and People, and one of the most-cited inspirational figures in the whole ID movement, who is mentioned dozens of times in Stephen Meyerâs new book Signature in the Cell. Here he is, endorsing young-earth garbage:
According to US biophysicist Dr. Dean Kenyon, âBiological macroevolution collapses without the twin pillars of the geological time-scale and the fossil record as currently interpreted. Few scientists would contest this statement. This is why the upcoming conference concentrates on geology and paleontology. Recent research in these two disciplines adds powerful support to the already formidable case against teaching Darwinian macroevolution as if it were proven fact.â
â¦proving that, yep, heâs still YEC, as has been his consistent position since at least 1980, even though this was widely doubted over on the Thinking Christian blog, and even though Stephen Meyer and all other ID advocates systematically obscure this fact.
So who is the one confusing ID and YEC? Not me. They do it themselves.
â¦ another shark appears, begging to be jumped.
One of Ray Comfortâs favorite examples of the invalidity of evolution (besides the banana) is sex. A while back Comfort objected to critical remarks about his book by PZ Myers. Comfort is quoted as saying
âLetâs go back even further (100 million years ago) to pre-pre-elephants that also contained males and females. At what point of time in evolutionary history did the female evolve alongside the male? And why did she evolve? Then explain, if you would professor, why horses, giraffes, cattle, zebras, leopards, primates, antelopes, pigs, dogs, sheep, fish, goats, mice, squirrels, whales, chickens, dinosaurs, beavers, cats, human beings and rats also evolved with a female, at some point of time in evolutionary history. Professor, I know you believe, but please, give us who are healthy skeptics some empirical evidence. Remember, stupid people like me want good hard evidence before we, like you, become believers in Darwinâs theory,â Comfort said.
In other words, if evolution is true who were Cain and Abel canoodling with? Erm, sorry about that. Wrong story line. PZ then smacked Ray around in more detail here. Comfortâs remarks are at the level of the old creationist question, âIf we evolved from monkeys how come there are still monkeys?â
However, intelligent design, we are told, is not creationism and is a much more sophisticated and âscientificâ enterprise. Or is it? On Uncommonly Dense, William Dembskiâs group blog, we find this gem in a post by âniwradâ::
It is unimaginable that reproduction and genitals arose by Darwinian evolution (that is for random mutations and natural selection). First, as a matter of principle: evolution needs reproduction; without reproduction no evolution. Therefore how can reproduction be the effect of evolution if evolution is an effect of reproduction? Itâs an impossible causality inversion. Second, for a technical reason: how could the male organs arise independently from the female organs given the cCSI they share? In fact the Darwinian processes work in the single individual. They are blind and unaware of the processes running in other individuals. Random mutations that happen in a genome have nothing to do with the mutations in another one.
â.â¦ Darwinian processes work in the single individualâ? Itâs hard to conceive of the level of ignorance necessary to make the argument in that post. Apparently the notion of âcoevolutionâ is foreign to the UD poster. But then, it only yields 186,000 hits on Google Scholar.
Itâs fun to see UD in bed with Ray Comfort. Somehow I think they were made for each other. And I donât think it was coevolution: Itâs a straight lineage, ancestor to descendant.
Update above the fold
The Texas Freedom Network sent a memo to journalists and bloggers today with some additional information (original TFN blog post about the creationist claims). TFN identifies specific instances where Don McElroy McLeroy, Chair ot the Texas State Board of Education, claimed that neither he nor any member of the Board supported the teaching of intelligent design creationism and that their machinations over the science standards has nothing to do with religion. For example, McElroy McLeroy claimed
I donât know of a single board member that has ever advocated teaching creationism, teaching âintelligent designâ or teaching supernatural explanations in the science classroom.
(Audio of the November 19 hearing, Committee of the Full Board Part D, at around 1 hour 45 minutes.) Thatâs flatly contradicted by the âStrongly Favorâ responses McElroy McLeroy and the other creationist Board members gave to the Free Market Foundationâs questionnaire.
More incredible given McElroy McLeroyâs claim above, as recently as August of this year McElroy McLeroy himself explicitly argued for the inclusion of supernatural explanations in science. In an opinion piece in the Austin American-Statesman on August 2. 2008, McElroy McLeroy argued (pdf):
For the supernaturalist, the phrase ânatural explanationsâ does not just undermine his view of science but actually excludes it by definition. If science is limited to only natural explanations but some natural phenomena are actually the result of supernatural causes then science would never be able to discover that truthânot a very good position for science. Defining science to allow for this possibility is just common sense.
Science must limit itself to testable explanations not natural explanations. Then the supernaturalist will be just as free as the naturalist to make testable explanations of natural phenomena. The view with the best explanation of the empirical evidence should prevail.
And so it has: McElroy McLeroy seems not to have noticed that the testable claims of supernaturalism have been uniformly contradicted by the evidence. For example, creationist claims about the age of the earth are false (McElroy McLeroy is a young earth creationist).
I canât decide if McElroy McLeroy knows heâs lying or is simply incapable of remembering his own claim made in writing just a few months ago. But then, is anyone surprised? Lying in the service of what is perceived as a higher purpose is evident in the circles he frequents, and I suppose that after a while it becomes so routine as to be unnoticeable to oneself.
Original Post below the fold
Although âExpelledâ has been receiving mostly negative reviews from the mainstream media and scientists, creationist organizations other than the Discovery Institute, AIG and ICR (both Young Earth Creationists) have remained cautiously silent. For instance, The Reasons To Believe (RTB) Scholars appeared to be suspicious about Expelled but refrained from any recommendations but now that they have seen a pre-release screening they have sent an email which can be found on the Calvin College ASA discussion list.
Dear RTB Chapter members,
With the impending release of âEXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowedâ (April 18), the Reasons to Believe scholar team thought it best to prepare a statement of our position, a guide for answering questions from chapters, networks, and apologists. Keep in mind that the mission of RTB centers on reaching out to science-minded people with two purposes:
In the Economist, an article explores how scientists are trying to explain religion. In a project titled âexplaining religionâ that involves scholars from 14 universities, researchers from many different disciplines are attempting to unravel the biological explanation for religion. The project receives funding from the âNew and Emerging Science and Technologyâ programme of the European Union. The same programme also organizes the Tackling complexity in Science project and I noticed the absence of any ID relevant proposals.
At the NewScientist blog, we find a posting which raises more questions than it answers
After confirming the news that the movie is without much of any scientific content, and makes ill chosen references to Nazis, Amanda Gefter, opinion editor, describes the Q&A that followed.
On Uncommon Descent William Dembski claims that Richard Dawkins has admitted that life could be designed and thus wonders: âIs ID therefore scientific?â. As I will show this is a logically flawed conclusion.
First of all lets point out Intelligent Design does not claim merely that life is designed but that such design can be detected via scientific methods. In this aspect if differs from science which admits that design always remains a logical possibility, however science also accepts that if such design is âsupernaturalâ no scientific method can detect such design.
Although Behe has referred to Miller as an âintelligent design proponentâ, Miller himself is on the record in many different forms that we should not conflate Millerâs faith with his scientific position.
On November 13th, 2007 Nova will present Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trialâ and as part of the experience, Nova is providing an excellent companion website. One of the features involves the perspective of various scientists on defining the concept of science
Miller has two segments in which he explains both the scientific method and religion and addresses what he considers some of the abuses of logic (âa gross mischaracterization to take a scientist in the past â¦ and say that Newton worked based on a hypothesis of design)
What Intelligent design pretends to do to be in the tradition in Newton, What intelligent design actually is, to be perfectly honest, is in the tradition of the middle ages where they stop investigation by saying we cannot answer this mystery it is the work of God âthe designerâ. This is a science stopper
Well, my time at NCSE is almost up. Next week I will be moving up to Berkeley to start a PhD in for-real, honest to goodness evolutionary biology. Itâs quite exciting. Unfortunately, before I go I have to clean all my files out of my cubicle at NCSE to make way for Josh Rosenau (yes, the Thoughts from Kansas guy), who will be occupying my desk. Amongst the stacks of books that I have checked out from libraries, borrowed from various people at NCSE without giving them back, etc., I came across one I hadnât seen since The Great Hunt for the Origins of Intelligent Design back in early 2005, during the research period of the Kitzmiller case. As everyone now knows, even though the ID guys will never admit it, âintelligent designâ as such originated in the 1989 ID textbook Of Pandas and People, with âintelligent designâ being the new label chosen after the 1987 Edwards decision made creationist terminology difficult to use in textbooks. Pandas was the first place the term âintelligent designâ was used systematically, defined in a glossary, claimed to be something other than creationism, etc. In a desperate attempt to obfuscate this basic historical point, ID guys have dug up various random instances of the words âintelligentâ and âdesignâ placed together (although they missed the 1861 Darwin letter, and the 1847 Scientific American article), most of them with absolutely no evidence of having influenced the actual actors in the 1980s who created the ID movement (there are some legitimate precursors, but they are in explicitly creationist works, e.g. Lester and Bohlinâs (1984) The Natural Limits to Biological Change, so the ID guys wonât cite them post-Kitzmiller).
A.E. Wilder-Smith (1915-1995) was a European âcreation scientist,â now deceased, sometimes described (pre-Kitzmiller) as inspiring pieces of ID. He was active from the 1960s to the mid-1980s. It is true that Wilder-Smith discusses âinformationâ, âdesignâ, âDesignâ, Paley, etc., a lot (as well as human tracks next to dinosaur tracks, Noahâs Flood, and other extremely embarassing creationist nonsense). But I have never found the actual phrase âintelligent designâ in his work. However, in early 2005, I did come across this, in a 1968 work by Wilder-Smith, discussing a certain oh-so-amazingly-complex organ. For some reason the IDers donât cite this example as a precursor:
To deny planning when studying such a system is to strain credulity more than to ask one to believe in an intelligent nipple designer, who incidentally must have understood hydraulics rather well.
(pp. 144-145 of: Wilder-Smith, A. E. (1968). Manâs origin, manâs destiny: a critical survey of the principles of evolution and Christianity. Wheaton, Ill., H. Shaw. Italics original, bold added.)
There you have it. The origin of âintelligentâ¦design.â
(In fairness, the full quote is posted below the fold.)
A blogger has an interesting report on the event that the Discovery Institute just held for teachers at Biola (Bible Institute of Los Angeles) University in order to promote their newest disguise for creationism, the textbook sneakily entitled âExplore Evolution.â
Iâm sure itâs a just coincidence that the very first person to blog this event â this no-way-itâs-creationism-no-sirree event â did it from the Old Earth Creation Homeschool blog and works for the old-earth creationist ministry Reasons to Believe.
Anyway, hereâs the interesting bit:
After you have been in the habit of creationism-watching for a few years you become extremely familiar with all of the usual creationist arguments, half-baked talking points, unchecked assertions taken as obviously true, etc. If you really get into it you learn the creationist movementâs long and specific history, and you learn that whatever form of creationism you are studying at the moment inevitably traces back basically to American protestant fundamentalism, and before that to something sometimes called ânaive Biblicism.â*
But there comes a point when you donât think you can learn anything much new about the creationists. You might stumble on a new mutation of a creationist urban legend or quote mine, or a new bit of creationist history like Dean Kenyon actually being a young-earther despite this fact being carefully hidden by the ID movement for 15+ years. But basically, you donât expect to find out much that is new.
Well, if you thought you were at this point, you would be wrong. A review article in this weekâs Science magazine (with a special focus on behavioral science) shows that scholars can ring out yet another twist in creationism studies.
The PNAS Early Edition webpage has just posted a series of papers from the December 2006 National Academy of Sciences Sackler Colloquium, âIn the Light of Evolution: Adaptation and Complex Design,â organized by Francisco Ayala and John Avise. The series of papers, on topics ranging from color vision to beetle horns, is now available (I will post the list below the fold). Eugenie C. Scott (aka Genie) was invited to speak at this meeting about evolution education and the history of opposition to it, and the speakers wrote papers to be published in PNAS and a forthcoming NAS volume.
Genie brought me on as a coauthor on the paper she was asked to write. This became:
I have just read the latest post of young-earth creationist/Discovery Institute fellow/Biola professor/blogger John Mark Reynolds. I think I am just going to have to occasionally serve the role of his guilty conscience in matters scientific. He has apparently thrown his own scientific conscience down a well somewhere, or he wouldnât be able to say the wildly hypocritical things he does.
John Mark Reynolds has put up the second part of an essay he is writing on the topic of how young-earth creationists like himself can rationalize sacrificing their scientific honesty on the altar of Biblical inerrancy. Here was my post on part 1.
Hereâs a really stunning bit:
Christianity has a general view of the world that accounts for why science works â¦ it allows the cosmos to be a cosmos (ordered) in a deep sense. Secularism lacks the same strength.
Few things are more ironic than young-earth creationist John Mark Reynolds (theologian at Biola, Discovery Institute fellow, leader in the ID movement) lecturing scientists about truth, stubborn facts, and having an âopen philosophy of science.â If thereâs an earthquake in LA today, it wonât be the tectonic plates shifting, it will be the simultaneous detonation of thousands of irony meters. How does the man get up in morning, when young-earth creationism is as hopelessly false on the empirical facts as anything ever has been in the whole history of science, and when the fundamentalist movementâs promotion of young-earth creationism is perhaps the biggest example of systematic fraud ever perpetrated on the American public? If you ever need an example of an ID advocate blathering lip service about âtruthâ, while shamelessly disregarding it in practice at the exact same time, here you go.