Big Bang Confuses Creationists

Now I know this isn’t Earth-shattering news, and hopefully anyone literate enough to make it to this blog will already understand the basic principles of the big bang, but I was reading through FSTDT (as always) and this comment drew my attention:

whats funny is science is catching up with the BIBLE! GOD spoke all things into existence Genesis is spot on, just? check out “big bang acoustics” you can actually find an audio tape of the “early” universe. I don’t agree with the “20 billion years ago nothing exploded part” but the fact that sound has a vital role in the creation of the universe is as it is written! Amen! (source)

Interesting as this is one the few “fundie” comments that seems to accept the existence of the “Big Bang” – sadly combined with some stunning lacks of knowledge and logic, but you cant have everything.

It got me wondering why so many religious types do their best to deny the “Big Bang” as a figment of imagination.

Even the name “big bang” was coined as a derisory put down for a theory that Fred Hoyle felt had too much “God” in it. It has the potential to support all manner of primitive creation myths – although it does undermine the chronology of certain sacred tomes.

In a nutshell then, given how this could really fit in with a “creator,” why do so many creationists hate the idea of a “creation event?” Are they really so lacking in basic logic?

(obviously the answer seems to be yes, but I still have some residual hope for humanity…)

The Commenters Delusion

I was toying with the Blind Commenter as a title, but decided it would be too obvious 🙂 . I have been reading some of the opinion blogs on the Times today, which is always enjoyable. The main three have been two by Ruth Gledhill (On Dawkins and on Scientology), and thanks to Nullifidian’s blog, I read one by William Rees-Mog, again on Dawkins. As is often the case the columns, being written by sensible journalists, are well presented (with the exception of Rees-Mog but he is different kettle of fish) and the arguments are structured.

Fortunately, for me, the same most certainly can not be said about the people who leave comments. Yes, some are sane and balanced, but others range from mildly confused to massively off the deep end. In this post, I will look at some of the more pertinent comments and explain why I think they are at least a little, ahem, confused.

Continue reading

Too stupid to be real

Well, from the department of the ineducable idiocy, I have found a blog which I don’t for one second think is a legit creationist / theist blog. I refuse to accept that anyone can be as stupid as this person, yet still be able to breathe unaided. Seriously. Still, it has given me a chance to rant about a few topics which have been annoying me lately.

The blog in question is called “Atheist Stooges” and, from that name alone, you just know it is going to be full of juicy idiocy. In this instance, the idiocy is so bizare I can only assume (hope?) that this is a wind up. Can people honestly hold to ideas like this and still function in society?

The blog has an article called “Enter the excavation” which really does hit a new nadir of nonsense. The basic crux of what is a long, wordy and badly written, post is that because you can not pin down a point in time which some human invented Atheism it must be sent by demons. What wonderful logic. There are so many fallacies in the post it would take months to unravel them all. This tends to happen when you take a false premise and try to make conclusions based on it though.

The opening paragraph sets the tone:

Do you know that if you make an endeavor to find out when and by whom atheism was authored you will not be able to find such information from any source? Not even the most “educated” atheists – particularly those associated with the most elite universities throughout the world can truthfully inform you when and by whom atheism originated. They can enlighten you as to who were its main perpetuators in different cultures; but they cannot identify its founder and when it actually originated. Continue reading

When you have no argument

Resort to an ad hominem or strawman.

It really is that simple. This must be such a universal “rule of thumb” that there must be a section in Genesis which tells people to do it. (This would also nicely explain why so many of the offenders are devout theist cranks)

Anyway, to kill a quiet Sunday afternoon (avoiding my research tasks), I visited UncommonStupidity (not an ad hominem, I am not saying their arguments are false because they are idiots – the two are co-incidental) again. Today I was rewarded with a piece about how Darwin was “anti-Irish” (amusingly titled “Darwin and the Irish … again“). If you are doing a course in logical arguments or similar, then check this out. It is an online example of how many logical inconsistencies and fallacies you can cram into a single blog post. I am sure this is a record – even by UncommonStupidity’s standards. This time it is O’Leary taking up the keyboard and he begins:

Apparently, one of the Thumbsmen has claimed that Bill Dembski overstated/misstated (or whatever) Darwin’s contempt for the feckless* Irish, with their endless stream of brats (combined, of course, with his approval of the thrifty and allegedly cautiously procreative Scot).

Which is hilarious, because contempt for the Irish was part and parcel of Darwin’s Brit toffery – a social code everyone in those days understood. The Potato Famine, when so many thousands starved to death within easy reach of abundant food exported from Ireland, would be incomprehensible apart from it. Indeed, I heard its fell echoes a century later, as a child in a far distant land.

No, Dembski did not misquote Darwin. Darwin meant exactly what he said. The problem is that what Darwin meant is incompatible with the theory he is famed for advancing.

With a start like that, you just know it is going to be good. Obviously O’Leary (good old Irish name, eh?) has a special insight into what Darwin actually thought and, equally, finds it valid to view his opinions from the comfort of 21st century society and our values. Maybe his intelligent designer provides this insight… Anyway, this line of nonsense progresses to:

Either natural selection produces survival of the fittest (Spencer’s term, quoted with approval by Darwin as a suitable description of the main point of his theory) or it does not. But Darwin believed – irrationally – that the Irish were both most likely to breed and succeed and less fit, and therefore a menace.

Wow. I told it was a good start. Now, the actual opinions of Darwin aside, “survival of the fittest” is not the “scientific” way of discussing evolution. It is a buzz word people use to try and explain things to the layperson. It happens in science all the time. For example, e=mc2 is an approximation of the proper theory because the full details are fairly complicated.

Another “failing” of the theistic argument is the combination of Science and Morality. A scientific theory does not have to be “morally” acceptable to an arbritrary social system. The two talk about different spheres of existence. If Darwin was contemptous of the Irish – so what?

O’Leary seems to really miss the point about what natural selection is and how it works, and sadly the potatoe famine acts as an example that artificial circumstances can allow large populations which are not “fit” to grow. (All this is comensurate with the science)

All in all (I can not be bothered addressing the other logical inconsistencies), this is another example of UncommonStupidity trying to show “evolution” is incorrect because Darwin was not a nice person. Sadly, theists are used to an idea hinging on a single individual’s values and remaining unchanged for thousands of years. In science this really is not the case. Will they ever get the idea?

[tags]Darwin, Evolution, Science, Philosophy, Logic, Intelligent Design, ID, History, Creationists, Creationist Fools, Woo, Crackpot[/tags]

Uncommon Stupidity

It has been awhile since I have “braved” the well of stupidity, vitriol, hatred and confusion which is Uncommon Descent but today I had a look.

Wow.

The stupidity remains. An entertaining highlight was ““No thanks, I’ll take two fivers” — Dumping Darwin from British currency.” Now, this really is full of nonsense. I was planning to post some select highlights but there are too many to choose from!

Basically the post (by Dembski) is that we (the British) should drop Darwin from the £10 note. He starts off going on about how, with the new twenty, the Bank of England is changing the “famous person” on the note and continues:

This is a news-worthy cause for British Darwin-doubters, who should urge that Darwin be dumped from the 10-pound note whenever there is a new security-upgrade version, on grounds that he is the chief prophet of the materialist religion, and his presence on the 10-pound note is an inappropriate endorsement of that materialist religion and its related anti-religious ferment. Now, it’s true that Britain has no 1st Amendment, but still, Britain is trying to be multi-cultural. A part of the effort could include a long list of choice inflammatory quotes from the new anti-religion books currently out in the bookstores (and in Darwin’s own writings — see the previous post here at UD); the effort could point out that the government, by honoring Darwin, implicitly lends its prestige to their venom.

See what I mean? Gibberish at its best. Dumbski Dembski moves on to talking about Darwin being a racist (nonsense but the UDders seem to like it) and decides William Wilberforce would be a better contender (on the apparent advice of the Fabian Society but I can find no confirmation of that with the search engine there…). This leads to a fantastic line of woo:

Thus, this effort would also kick-off a comparison of what good has been brought to the world by these two people — Darwin vs. Wilberforce. Nazi Eugenics vs. the abolition of slavery. Is there really any contest?

Which brings up the reason I keep posting juicy bigotted and racist quotes by Darwin and his disciples here at UD. While the intellectual community may know them, the general public does not. Suppose the public decided that every time it accepted a “Darwin” (a 10-pound note) in payment or in change for a purchase, it was implicitly endorsing those terrible quotes? People would likely say, “No thanks, I’d rather have two fivers. I don’t take money that praises racists and bigots — and neither should you.”

In other words, promote a boycott of the Darwin 10-pound note because it promotes racism. It’s like putting Robert E. Lee on the ten-dollar bill because he was a great general, and ignoring the cause he served. This would work particularly well because the goal of the Fabians and other multiculturalists is to re-define Britain to be racially-inclusive. Thus there is a particular reason to highlight the racism of Darwin and get rid of him.

I really do think this is some one going off the deep end. Proponents of ID still have no science, evidence or data to support their ideas. The best they can aim for a rather pathetic attempt to paint a dead person in a bad light. They constantly fall foul of the fallacious idea that attacking a person (Darwin, Dawkins etc) is the same as attacking their ideas. In really, it wouldn’t matter if Darwin was racist (he wasn’t – at least not by the standards of his time), it wouldn’t even matter if what Darwin thought was the “Theory of Evolution” was wrong. Things have changed. Time has passed. Science has progressed and the theory of evolution has evolved.

Sadly, the IDers are trapped in a world which means not only are they incorrect but they are incapable of properly arguing their side, but can never give in.

You have to pity them, don’t you?

Department of the Stupid

Although online time is limited here today, I took a look a the ever entertaining Pharyngula and found a post about CreationWiki. Now, not being one to pass up something which has farce written all over it in big creationist-style letters, I just had to have a look.

Wow.

The CreationWiki is almost beyond belief. Reading the posts there is almost vomit inducing and I honestly hope it was put together by school children at best. It strikes me that the contributors have had a brushing acquaintance with science, decided they didn’t like it and have run in the total opposite direction. I am far from the best scientist in the world (if I was, I wouldn’t be blogging here..) but it takes, on average, less than 60 seconds to find critical faults in almost every one of the “wiki” entries on this site. It really is that bad. You have to check it out.

It’s blurb on the front page speaks volumes about what you can hope to expect from such an august website:

The CreationWiki is a free encyclopedia of creation science being assembled by the international creationist community. We encourage all creationists to get involved with the development of this valuable resource.

And yes this wiki does show how thin on the ground Creation Science is. They cite the crank Vox Day as if he is a credible source of knowledge. They jump at every chance to insult or denigrate Darwin – for some reason it is common for creationists to think the theory of evolution is in the exact same form as it was when Darwin first thought of it, that it may have evolved itself is beyond their ability to comprehend.

For some reason I am not fully sure of yet, while this site mangles Physics, Cosmology, Biology, Palaeontology (etc.), it seems to leave Chemistry largely unscathed. That is either because my chemistry is a lot worse than any other subject or maybe Creationists are just chemists in disguise….

Prove or Disprove

Short one as not much to rant about today, however some general web surfing has made me think about a few issues in science related to Evolution / Creationism.

The scientific method is well established and is certainly the “generally accepted” way of defining what is scientific and what isn’t. This method, not some half baked 2000 year old text which has been re-written more times than I can count, provides the yardstick against which all science is measured – be it Evolution, Relativity, Electromagnetism, anything. Without it, well, it’s back to the dark ages.

The crux of the method is the ability to make testable predictions and carry out proper experiments which can falsify the theory. You dont actually have to prove the theory wrong for it to be scientific (although this is a common misconception of the term) but you need to be able to construct an experiment which could prove the theory wrong. This is important so make a note of it.

Now, on to the wonders of creationism. Most, if not all, creationist propaganda carries the sole message that “Evolution is Wrong.” If you do a YouTube, Google or (especially) a MySpace search you come across all manner of idiocy and madness about the topic. People saying “evolution is wrong because … [insert nonsense].” Things range from the “missing link” oddity to crazy arguments like irreducible complexity. The main thing they all have in common is the nonsense and bad science which tends to back them.

The important thing, in the context of this post anyway, is the issue about disproving evolution.

First off, the fact that the lunatics (ID, YEC et al) are capable of coming up with a possible experimental circumstance which could disprove evolution reinforces the fact that evolution is scientific. Scientific does not mean true or correct. Newtonian Gravity was a scientific theory which turned out to be incorrect. This is part of the way science works. A scientific fact has more caveats than the average person would ever think of applying to something “factual.”

Secondly, and possibly more importantly, even if the lunatics did manage to disprove the theory of evolution, that does not mean Creationism takes a default win. That is not how science works. A flaw in general relativity (eg, interactions on the quantum scale) does not mean Newtonian Gravity is correct – or to be a more accurate analogy, a flaw in GR does not mean gravity is caused by bananas. Finding something in a theory which is wrong is the “Holy Grail” (all puns intended) of science. It means people get to advocate new Scientific theories (sorry, creationists, you dont count). People get Nobel prizes. People get huge amounts of funding. (and so on).

Intelligent Design / Creationism / whatever, is not scientific. It really isn’t. Saying “God Did It” is not science – even changing God to something you think will slip under the radar still does not make it science. If anything it is the end of science. It blocks further investigation because if anything is unknown or fails to meet the predictions you can just say “the creator wanted it that way and who are we to second guess the all-mighty one?”

Falsifying evolution would be a good thing, but it certainly would not mean creationism was the correct science. The theory of evolution is scientific. It almost certainly is not the endstate for our understanding of life and it makes no predictions about how life started, but it is a valid, solid, theory. Just like gravity. I am not going to even think of getting worked up about the “it’s just a theory” crap…

Actually…

I was going to try and ramp down my tirades against the nutcases, creationists, theists (etc) who pollute the world with their crazy views of science. However, I rapidly changed my mind 🙂

I am not the worlds biggest fan of , I have never really “got” the draw of looking at grainy video embedded in to a massively contrasting white page for a start, but I have appreciated the few gems people have found and put on their own sites. This got me to spending a bit of my (precious!) spare time looking through YouTube and what I discovered was breathtaking. Some of them (VenomFangX for example) are either pure satire or so insane they NEED to spend time in an institution.

On the positive side, there is an excellent line of videos (“Actually” which inspired the title for this blog. Yes I am THAT lazy today), which magnificently take the Creationists and other assorted anti-Science nutters arguments to pieces. This is a recent example:

It is really good. There are many, many more fallacies in the argument the woman puts forward but this does a good job of hitting the main ones. Her comments about carbon dating are so off the rails you cant help but giggle.

On a more serious note. I am actually shocked and more than a little worried that what appears to be a significant (i.e. not ZERO) number of people in the worlds nuclear superpower hold these ideas. It truly beggars belief that they can make claims like the only reliable dating of fossils goes back 6000 years. Truly nutcases. Not only do they not understand the basics of science, but they complete fail to grasp any idea of the theories they argue against. The sheer weight of creationist videos on YouTube – all of which show less understanding of evolution that a two year old could muster – is mind boggling.

Going back to the video – I just love the bit where the mad-woman says about how science books change, but the bible has never changed. I nearly choked on my drink hearing that.