Sunday, 30 January 2011

View From the Pulpit; Creationist Psychology

An interesting post on "certainty", a key part of the creationist mindset;

Ask any former fundamentalist Christian what was the hardest thing about giving up the faith, and many of them are likely to tell you that at least part of it was the loss of certainty: a fundamentalist knows, not believes, but knows, beyond all possibility of doubt or error, what the Truth is.  Those who have never been tempted by fundamentalism are often mystified by this aspect of it, for nowhere else in human experience is this degree of certainty thought possible or even necessary.  For them, this way of thinking is probably so alien as to be unable to be taken seriously as an option.  We can all be wrong, about anything.  Everybody knows that.
 But not everybody.  Certainty is near to the heart of most if not all fundamentalisms, and it’s intuitive appeal is not hard to see.  To know for sure what is true about the world and where it is headed, and moreover, where oneself is headed, to know for sure one’s purpose in life, and to know with perfect knowledge that one is loved and adored and will be protected in perfect bliss forever – all this needs no apologist to make it appealing. 
For those of us who leave fundamentalism, learning to deal with doubt and uncertainty – which suddenly and in a most unwelcome way take up permanent residence in our psyches – can be wrenching indeed.  It is a much harder way to live.  Why is it harder?  Well, for one, it is not exactly galvanizing to raise up ones fist with a crusader’s fervency and chant: “We’re Not Sure!”  But there is an even better answer, I think.  Certainty is, I suggest, at the center of the fundamentalist psyche because it serves to ward off the primal dread, helplessness – the gut sense of human limitation and vulnerability that is our biological heritage as physically weak and therefore interdependent social primates. This anxiety, basic to life, is both ordinary and terrifying. We are frail creatures, really.  Each of us knows this.  What better way to prop up our flagging courage than telling ourselves extraordinary stories of Specialness and Rescue?  And what good are the stories if they are mere stories, or, just as bad, if they are merely probable?  When one is alone in the dark, the prospect of probable rescue doesn’t steel the nerve much.  Only certainty can do that.

Anti-Science again

I think I have figured out what exactly "+ science and values" actually means.

It means anti-science.  Despite moaning about having this pointed out before they are doing it again here.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Creationist visit to the Natural History Museum

A creationist visits the Natural History Museum - food for thought;

Last Sunday, I had the great pleasure of spending the day with a friend at the Natural History Museum.  Now, this friend also happens to be a Creationist and the report of our 'date' was met with much mirth on Twitter as Jade is quite open about her beliefs and questions us often about the veracity of the theory of evolution. 
. . .
I was also lucky enough to be able to ask my own questions and it eventually all boiled down to me asking; 'Do you really believe, after seeing everything we have seen today, that the Earth is only 6000-10000 years old and that we were all created as we are now?'.  The answer was not the one I had been expecting and I would hazard that my skeptical/scientific friends may also have been surprised because Jade anwered;  'Do you not understand that if we (Creationists) accept the theory of evolution to be the truth, we must abandon everything we hold to be true?'.  I asked for clarification and was shocked to be told that Jade had not been introduced to the theory of evolution until she was 14yrs old.  She also reported that in her church, the pastor continuously preaches that to accept evolution as truth means to abandon everything in the Bible, abandon all of her beliefs. 
. . .
I think there is an important distinction to make here; I am not saying we treat vocal proponents of ID or creationism with any less of the vigour we already show, as institutions like the Noah's Ark Farm and the Centre for Intelligent Design are not merely believers but are trying to assert their viewpoint by removing access to the evidence or by obfuscating the established curriculum.  But to dismiss Creationists as fools for not seeing the obvious truth makes us equally as guilty of a selective ignorance.
My emphasis.

Debunking Corner - Geology

A lovely piece suitable for all here;

The making of an angular unconformity: Hutton’s unconformity at Siccar Point
Just a tad over 6,000 years needed for this - unless you go for a magic flood of course - that can explain anything.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Cool Science that C4ID pretend doesn't exist

C4ID are busy telling everyone they can find (they even have materials aimed at schools) that this can't happen.

From here;

Researchers show how one gene becomes two (with different functions)

Honesty has never been a creationist strongpoint.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Explore Evolution finding it's way into UK libraries

From our Forum;

Glasgow University has a copy of Explore Evolution, presumably donated. They have a policy of filing Steve Meyer's work under "theology", where you will now find it, alongside such works as Pennock's exhaustive (and exhausting, but unfortunately necessary) Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics. This is as it should be.
I live in Glasgow and, visiting the Glasgow city libraries catalogue, I discovered that they had no fewer than 10 copies in branch libraries. I have therefore written to them in the following terms, and would suggest that other members may wish to do likewise, if relevant:
I see you have 10 copies of this in local branch libraries, presumably donated. You have classified it, as the donors (probably the creationist group that calls itself Truth in Science) would have wished, as science. This is misleading. The work is a Creationist polemic, deceptively packaged as science; read my own review here [on the Glasgow libraries website], and the more detailed analysis by the British Centre for Science Education at ... xposed.pdf
I would respectfully suggest that you consider the merits of this book, although the Mitchell [Glasgow's municipal reference library] should certainly retain a copy as an interesting document. If you decide to keep it, I would also suggest that it be filed under philosophy, the one area in which the lead author has professional-level qualifications, rather than under science.
We know of at least one library that has been selling off its (presumably donated) copies very cheaply. Meantime, the list price on is approaching the ludicrous figure of £50, which can only be intended to deter unauthorised purchases.

More on Explore Evolution here.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Debunking Corner - Creation Scientists?

Can you be a scientist if you have to sign up to what the results to your research are BEFORE you do it?

Well, obviously no.

Unless you are a Creation Scientist that is.

PZ Myers gives us some details here;

There's something you have to understand about the staff of the Creation "Museum": they all have to sign a testimonial that asserts, among other things, that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. These are self-proclaimed scientists who flout the evidence to argue for an absurd conclusion. I'm not talking about "interpreting the same facts" differently, as they like to claim, but ignoring and denying the evidence that refutes their dogma.
That's all you need to know. David Menton, Andrew Snelling and Georgia Purdom are all absolutely certain that the creation of the earth is an event that occurred somewhere near the end of human prehistory, which was itself a very late, geologically recent event in the history of the universe. How absurd is that claim?
The city of Jericho — it's in the Bible, look it up — is 11,000 years old. Isn't it remarkable that a city with a population of zero sprang up on a planet that didn't exist at the time? The chthonic dingleberries of Answers in Genesis would apparently have you believe one of our oldest urban centers must have been floating in the primordial chaos, waiting for Jehovah to conjure up the Jordan river and the West Bank and the Middle East and the Mediterranean and the firmament and the sun and stars.
Six thousand years ago, the Plano culture was hunting bison on the Great Plains. The predynastic Egyptians of the Naqada period were colonzing the Nile. The precursors to the Indus River civilization were making copper tools and growing barley. The Mesopotamians were building city states. The people of the Hongshan culture were carving jade dragons in northeastern China; the Yangshao were producing silk along the Yangtze river; the Majiabang people were cultivating rice and pigs. The ancient Britons were building tombs and erecting wooden posts on Salisbury plain, precursors to Stonehenge. The Funnelbeaker people were trading pottery across northern Europe, while the Chasséen people were living in a village near the site of modern Paris. All this at a time when the human population of planet Earth, according to this risible trio, was two. What did Adam and Eve do? Commute a lot?
People were manipulating the precursors to modern wheat, rice, barley, taro, and soy at least 9000 years ago; Sumerians had invented irrigation 7000 years ago; and Mesoamericans began to tweak teosinte by artificial selection about 6000 years ago. The crops we grow are the product of millennia of selection and cultivation, and show the marks of our ancient biotechnology. The bread that God casually commanded Adam to sweat over and eat for all the days of his life after the Fall was already the product of thousands of years of development.
A middle-aged woman in northern Israel died and was buried with her puppy dog…twelve thousand years ago. We know the first dogs with skeletal indications of domestication appeared over 30,000 years ago. What kind of crazy cosmology do the loons of AiG have when they have to account for a world they claim is 24,000 years younger than Fido and Rover?
There is a colonial colony of shrubs in Tasmania called King's Lomatia that is probably over 40,000 years old. They can't produce sexually, so they've just been propagating vegatively, clone after clone after clone, right through the whole creation of the world, according to a certain small dismal clan of meretricians. In fact, those plants were well into late middle age when the god of the Hebrews purportedly decided to create real estate.
According to these "scientists," all of modern geology, from the Himalayas to the ocean trenches, was formed in one immense cataclysmic event that occurred over the course of a single year, four thousand years ago; an event that essentially sterilized all multicellular life on Earth except for one small family and their livestock who weathered the catastrophe in a wooden boat. That was some disaster, and that must have been some boat.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

View From the Pulpit - Clayboy

Here are a series of posts by an Anglican Priest here in the UK that provide an interesting perspective on creationism;

Augustine leaves room for science to be science, and neither a means of confirming nor mocking Scripture. In doing so he also leaves room for Scripture to be Scripture, and not pseudo-science.

Science or Bible? Dawkins’ new best friend

It is not surprising, for example, that there were early scientific arguments raised against evolution. That’s how science makes its way: testing out new proposals. (In fact, much of Wilberforce’s argument in his debate with Huxley was the case of the leading naturalist he was, despite the myth that has grown up around it.) The fact that science moved more and more to a new consensus based around natural selection does however matter rather more for its trustworthiness than the ways entrenched dogmatic opposition to it grew in some limited fundamentalist circles.
In short, if yesterday I was rather despairing that the first chapter did its best to overthrow science, today I’m frustrated that the second chapter seeks to refute all mainstream biblical scholarship. I can’t easily see that the book will advance very much further from these positions. This is, quite frankly, the kind of work that gets apologetics a bad name, and makes me wonder whether the atheists might not be right all along.

If you know a creationist, can you help me?

Did God make it to look old from the very beginning, knowing (for he is omniscient) that this would make it hard for people to believe in him? That looks dangerously like divine deceit.
Did God give the youthful skin of the universe cosmic wrinkles as a punishment for Adam’s sin, so that we would turn to him and be Botoxed? It is inconvenient that the Bible remains stunningly silent on this particular punishment.
Did Satan send out his minions to scatter fossils among the rocks, and rub aging potion into the depths of the earth? That is to grant the forces of evil an awful lot of power.
I genuinely can’t see what reason Mohler and others can give (convincing or otherwise) for accepting that the world looks old to all our natural investigatory senses and skills, yet is in fact young if we only believe a supernatural explanation for the apparent elderly age.
Could someone please tell me what is the preferred supernatural explanation for a young earth looking old? Presumably there must be one.
I think this suggests there’s a reasonable case to be made, purely from the Bible itself, that getting the science wrong goes hand in hand with getting the Bible wrong. It would seem authoritative writing is not all it’s cracked up to be, even for God. Once written won’t fly.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Anti-Science Anti-Environmentalism & an eye for the main chance

This posting illustrates a key creationist mind set.

Science and Medicine and Journalism have unravelled a fraud committed by a Doctor since struck off.  It wasn't spotted very effectively and not very quickly, but eventually it was sorted out.

What does this mean if you are a creationist?

Science is wrong.
The good news is, the fraud has been exposed (just like climate gate) and kids should continue to get their vaccinations. Perhaps people will take a closer look at peer-review standards and punishments on this level should be severe when committing such fraud especially when it affects such things as the health of the public!  
Oh and BTW Global Warming is a fraud too!

You've got to admire creationists, they really do take no notice of evidence or logic!

The Blind Watch Maker

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Down the Quote Mine - Greg Laden

From here;

The blog post goes on to note that the authors give some crazy-ass explanations for how evolution manages to happen (i.e., those I mention above) and asserts that these other ideas are post-hoc excuses that would never work. Which is pretty much what I would expect from someone who does not understand science and who has faith that the scientists are wrong. Such faith would lead anyone to assume that ideas that explain the observations we make of nature are made up and incorrect.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

View From The Pulpit - A N Wilson

Just a passing comment in a larger piece;

It almost beggars belief that there are still "creationists" in English and American schools who wish to teach young students that the world is only 6,000 years old. Yet it is surely equally staggering that so many clever people suppose that these scientific facts somehow dispose of the ancient mysteries – of love, of moral obligation, of the all but universal sense of God – which have been part of all civilised discourse in every part of the world.

The friendly and inclusive world of creationism

AIG tell us that even being a creationist won't get you into heaven - you actually have to agree with them about exactly what was created and when it happened.  Oh, and sending AIG money will probably help too.

They also show how they view Intelligent Design - a gateway drug to the hard stuff - Young Earth Creationism;

But it would be disastrous simply to show people the evidence for an intelligent Designer and not to pursue the topic any further. When we talk to people about an intelligent Designer, we must recognize the ultimate need of each human. If we leave the Creator’s identity a mystery, we invite people to consider all sorts of gods as this possible intelligence, instead of the one true Creator God.
Mankind’s sinful heart is too corrupt to find God without the Scriptures.

So that means that the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury are actually going to Hell.

60% of UK Evangelicals accept evolution and Christianity are compatible

From here;

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Debunking Corner - Improbable improbability arguments

Creationists often attempt to bamboozle people with arguments including huge numbers and saying things like, "that's just too improbable to happen even once in the lifetime of the universe".

The simple truth, however, is that they can't do the maths.

Here is the same creationist logic applied to a deck of playing cards;
Deal out a deck of cards then the chances of getting just that order of cards are very, very small, therefore it is a miracle.
One of the things that is wrong with their argument is the hidden assumption that the deck you deal is special in some way, the arrangement of cards is somehow special or unique.

They make this same case with the arrangement of amino acids that form proteins in living cells;
This one particular sequence of amino acids is just a one in a massively-huge-number chance, therefore it is a miracle.
Meanwhile, in the real world, science is finding out new stuff.

This story shows that there are other sequences of amino acids that can function in living cells.  How many more are there?

Science doesn't know.

Neither do the creationists.

The difference is that science isn't making claims based on something that isn't known.

UK Creationist Interview

Here is an interview with the UK creationist Stephen "Birdshit" Green of Christian Voice.

You might not know of him as a creationist but perhaps as the chap who protested against a certain opera about Jerry Springer or perhaps as the "go to" man for extreme religious views for the Daily Mail.

Here are a few tasters;

Creationist credentials first, complete with total lack of any understanding of evolution;

When I looked at the world around me, I realised that for me to believe in evolution required more of a suspension of credulity than I could muster. Why does the peacock have such a magnificent tail? ‘So he can attract a mate’, the evolutionist replies. So how does the hedge-sparrow do it? Whales were pigs who took an early-morning dip and, hey-presto, their spines swivelled round and they developed fins and tails and blow-holes before they drowned. And loads of them did it so they could reproduce as different kinds of whale. All by chance. Please!
Once I realised that there was intelligent design around me, there had to be a super-intelligent designer. It seems reasonable to me to ascribe to such a being the character of God. There being a God, it seems reasonable that He would communicate with mankind in some way, and that He could inspire human beings to make writings to convey His message to all generations. And being God, it also seems reasonable that He would be infallible, all-knowing and eternal. His message will also be intellectually coherent, as the Bible demonstrates. 

How he gets messages from God;

Once I realised that there was intelligent design around me, there had to be a super-intelligent designer. It seems reasonable to me to ascribe to such a being the character of God. There being a God, it seems reasonable that He would communicate with mankind in some way, and that He could inspire human beings to make writings to convey His message to all generations. And being God, it also seems reasonable that He would be infallible, all-knowing and eternal. His message will also be intellectually coherent, as the Bible demonstrates.

Secular humanism is the dominant culture in Britain today, and we too, kill our own children, before they are born, in special clinics. Not much of an advance from the civilisation of ancient Canaan, is it, really? 

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Guardian versus the Creationists

Questions about Noah's Ark that may bug creationists
Certain aspects of the insect world are rather problematic for believers in the literal truth of the biblical flood story
. . .

Recognising that that argument is a logical fallacy, one is nonetheless impressed by the temerity of those who deploy it against the gnat of evolution while performing the mental gymnastics required to argue that the biblical account is somehow more straightforward.
From here.

PS spot the link to the BCSE wiki? "Baramins" in paragraph 5.

Creation Watch - US Style

Our own Creation-Watch campaign can involve trips to such exotic spots as Leeds, York, Redditch or Cambridge.

Anyone fancy striking out a little further this summer?

How about Kentucky?

Monday, 17 January 2011

Standing Up To Experts

Debunking Corner - Irreducible Complexity (again)

Irreducible complexity cut down to size
The argument presented here, encapsulated:
1. Complex natural systems CAN evolve gradually through the accumulation of many small useful steps;
2. Systems claimed to be "irreducibly complex" are often NOT;
3. Even systems that ARE irreducibly complex can have functional precursors and evolve gradually.
From GrrlScientist 

Consequences of Evolution

From here;

Natural selection acts by winnowing the individuals of each generation, sometimes clumsily, as old parts and genes are co-opted for new roles. As a result, all species inhabit bodies imperfect for the lives they live. Our own bodies are worse off than most simply because of the many differences between the wilderness in which we evolved and the modern world in which we live. We feel the consequences every day. Here are ten.

A Tour of the Creation Museum

Sunday, 16 January 2011

A Brave New Creationist World

From here;

This hypothetical creation-oriented society would take scientific education, research, and investigation in a new direction. Astronomers would stop looking for "dark matter" and "dark energy," and instead develop a uniform cosmology with insights from the Annals of Creation. It would find this model much simpler than the Big Bang model has now become.
Geology would return to its pre-Lyell understanding. The result might, perhaps, lead to improved fossil-fuel exploration, and would be more likely to lead to improvements in prospecting for uranium, thorium, and other radioactive minerals. The realization that radioactive elements on earth had their origins in a spate of ultra-high-magnitude earthquakes might lead to an investigation of whether more radioactive materials might suddenly become "discoverable" near the epicenters of any future magnitude-eight or stronger earthquakes. Indeed, the careful study of veins of uranium, thorium, and similar ores, and of the magnetic ores, might lead to better mapping of earthquake zones.
Medicine would abandon its hubristic seeking after "designer drugs," its careless disregard of the possible functions of various organs (like the vermiform appendix), and its almost willful ignorance of the role of diet in human health (and animal husbandry). Creationism would reinforce the notion that mankind, and for that matter every animal, is specifically designed to use certain foodstuffs that are, in turn, specifically designed to serve as good, healthful food. Such a society would necessarily abandon the modern Western diet and rediscover the health-maintaining practices that the Bible mentions (and that are still current, in only slightly modified form, in the Middle East, and especially in Israel).
Zoology would become a much more exciting discipline than it is today. Zoologists would look on the woolly mammoth with new understanding. Expeditions to find live dinosaurs would be more than the stuff of science fiction (cf. The Lost World, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and would receive serious attention and funding. And this Examiner does not doubt that at least some would be successful.
Linguistics would take up the question of whether Hebrew (or a sort of Old High Hebrew) is the original root language of mankind. History and ethnology would seek to expand upon the Annals of Shem (specifically the Table of Nations) and the histories and chronologies of certain ancient peoples who had contact with the Hebrew people from time to time. And every shipwright in this society would stand in humble awe of the greatest and most important project in the annals of naval architecture. For that matter, serious attempts to reverse-engineer Noah's Ark might lead to rediscoveries of certain lost shipbuilding arts that would make modern ships safer than they are today.
In short, creationism, far from retarding science, would free it to fulfill its proper role: knowledge and understanding of the true nature of man, and how to live as God intended him to live, rather than a prideful pursuit of "improvements" that turn out to be, quite simply, curses.
It's a bit of a hint when we can simply re-print the creationists own case without comment as reasons why they don't deserve to be represented in science class.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Debunking Corner - Irreducible Complexity (again) (again)

Creationists on Catholics

Ken Ham;
Bottom line: if the Pope believes in the Big Bang and the Pope believes Genesis is an allegory—he is teaching something that contradicts and undermines the Word of God.
When he isn't having a go at fellow Christians he is telling everyone he can find that the Big Bang and Evolution are an atheist conspiracy.

PS if you wondered, Ken's organisation is active in the UK too.

Friday, 14 January 2011

More Creationism on Intelligent Design sites

Seeing as how all creationists claim that Intelligent Design is not creationism and is actually science, it's amusing to see just how much time they spend on ID web sites rehearsing tired old creationist arguments.

Heard this one before?

In the thread to my last post the following question was asked: “How are creationism and Darwinism commensurable.” In other words, what key traits do the two share, if any?
Here is my answer: With both creationism and Darwinism, the faith commitment is primary and the evidence is secondary.

I think that it must sound somthing like this in the creationist mind;
Heard that argument from the scientists that creationism is about faith and science isn't?
Yes, good isn't it.
Tell you what lets use it ourselves.
Breathtaking isn't it?

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Creationism in Disguise

Creationists have even set up their own "science journals" so they can pretend to themselves that they are doing science.

The sensuouscurmudgeon tells it like it is.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Creationism and ESP?

Uncommon descent is a blog thats self describes as "serving the ID community";

In reality is tends to be full of creationist canards, right wing rhetoric and anything anti-science they can get their hands on.

Apparently this now includes telepathy.

Well we certainly saw that one coming.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Latest UK Creationist Ploy: The World Around Us

The latest attempts to get creationism and intelligent design into UK science classes surfaced during Michael Behe's recent UK tour.

The web site "The World Around Us" (WAU) has already been promoted to all UK schools through a mass email campaign last year.

Here is a taste of the spin;
A teacher and student resource, it can be found at Its objective is to stimulate students’ curiosity and encourage them to consider alternative explanations based on recently published evidence from scientific and historical journals. The site also considers the strengths and weaknesses of the scientific method, including the influence that different world-views can have in interpreting scientific evidence. Dealing with topics that often make the news headlines, the site is provocatively subtitled “towards a post-Darwinian view” but it does not draw conclusions.
It is extremely misleading, to say the least, not to point out to students and teachers that the material on the site in fact goes against the stated guidelines for science teachers and that the new education secretary also recently confirmed that creationism and ID are not suitable for use in schools as they have no scientific foundation.

Genesis (spot the clue in the name) Aggendum even managed to get themselves reported in the TES for Scotland (web and printed editions) without any mention of the creationist nature of the material - great journalism!

Look out for Holocaust denial resources suitable for History teachers and students in next weeks TES and Flat Earth Society materials suitable for Geography teachers and students the week after!

We are reliably informed by BCSE members and contacts who attended several of Behe's meetings that the WAU web site was recommended as "promoting the secular evidence for creation" and that "it was particularly useful for children to raise questions about in science classes".

Professor Paul S. Braterman, MA, DPhil, DSc has produced a complete analysis of the site from the point of view of science and current education policy which we have previously featured on this blog.

We are pleased to make this article, together with the extensive appendix listing the specific problems with the claims made, freely available as a downloadable resource for parents, teachers and students alike.

Look out Astronomers - the Creationists are Coming

Want to see the evidence against the big bang?

What about some silly claims about comets?

The creationists are happy to oblige;

Comets and their orbits look like special creations, and they look younger than ever because of 2010's closer-than-ever view of one of them. Certainly they were designed to "be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years."5 The Big Bang concept, already fully bankrupted, now has more explaining to do than ever before. The universe looks fully mature, as would be expected in a completed creation.6 And the fully mature galactic clusters near the outer edge show that the cosmos was intentionally created. 

Monday, 10 January 2011

Anti-Science Anti-Environmentalism & Green Nazis

From a creationist in Scotland we get the following wisdom;

It is all about our enslavement: thousands of new laws; the climate change scam; the gun ban; the smoking ban; the dumbing down; the promotion of promiscuity; political correctness.

You can't make up this kind of stuff.

Creationism in The Church of England Newspaper

Creationism in The Church of England Newspaper from here;

At this point I had better declare an interest. I am myself an Evolution Sceptic of the Intelligent Design variety. I learned the standard scientific orthodoxy at school and swallowed it whole. When I became a Christian, I was faced of course, as we all are, with the discrepancies between this and the Bible version of events. I lived for years with an uncomfortable compromise between the two: ‘Evolution is the glove concealing the hand of God at work fashioning Man,’ I used to say. But then in 1987 I read a book by Michael Denton called Evolution: a Theory in Crisis. And my eyes were opened.
I have gone on reading ever since and the more I read the less I believe in Evolution or in the whole scientific Standard Model. For me, as a Christian, it was not too hard to find an alternative model: there it was in the book of Genesis. Others come to the same place but from the other end; I have no quarrel with them, and nor, I hope, do they with me.
We all have a quarrel with the arrogant and abrasive scientific certainties of the world in which we live. The trouble with the dominant scientific orthodoxy is that it cannot or will not accept the mystery or the mysteries by which we are all surrounded. Where does the universe come from? How did life originate? How exactly did evolution cross the immense gaps between the species? We are no nearer to the answers to these questions, despite billions of man-hours and billions of pounds spent searching for them, than we were 150 years ago, when Darwin published The Origin of The Species. Nor, I believe, are we ever going to be able answer them in scientific terms.
. . .

The fact is that the scientific evidence that we have is full of holes, or mysteries. At one time people believed in the God of the Gaps and then retreated from that position because the gaps seemed to be getting smaller and smaller and threatened to close up altogether. But that is not the case today: the gaps are getting bigger and bigger; the chances of the world that we live in happening by accident are vanishingly small. The chances of a strand of DNA assembling itself by accident are infinitesimal, too small to be worth considering. The world is an essentially mysterious place. Science has not got it all sorted out, whatever Stephen Hawking says: science has only deepened the mysteries. In the face of the mysteries of life there are only two responses, a shrug of the shoulders, or faith in God.
By way of contrast have a look at the official Church of England web site on Darwin.

Argument from Incredulity - C4ID show off their chops

From Wonderful Life;

The dear old Centre for Intelligent Design creationism are misrepresenting science again (University finds brain’s complexity beyond belief).  Of course Alastair Noble and colleagues don’t want any of those nasty scientists leaving comments, so as per usual there’s no commenting facility.  As C4ID report,
They found that the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief, says Stephen Smith
At least C4ID don’t alter the “almost to the point”.
So, in essence, C4ID can’t understand how evolutionary and developmental biology can result in such complexity, so God a designer must have done it.  They then go on to say:
Yet there are scientists who appear on our TV screens all the time to tell us that life just popped into existence when the right bunch of chemicals appeared, and that the genetic instructions required to construct the awesome human brain simply evolved by themselves with no guidance at all.
Which somewhat economical with the truth.

Practice Makes Perfect

Creationists are the "high achievers" of the non-skeptical world.

And practice makes perfect.

So denying the science behind other things just comes naturally;
Eight predictions made by climatologists that clearly did not happen:
. . .
Many people, including many Christians, use scientific consensus to argue against the Bible, especially Genesis 1-11. What this article shows is that scientific consensus is constantly changing, and cannot be trusted. God's Word, on the other hand, is unchanging, and can be trusted absolutely. Science is nothing more than the observations and opinions of fallen, sinful men, but the Bible is the very Word of the sovereign, holy, perfect Creator of the universe.
From here.

PS this posting, which quotes science denial and anti-environmental attitudes from some creationists, is pointing out the science denial of some creationists.

The group called "+ science and values" complained the last time that we linked to some Anthropogenic Global Warming denialism by creationists.  They pointed out that they don't subscribe to this, although we didn't in fact say that they did.


Anyway, one of their listed commentators links to the Creation Science Movement who seem to be promoting some Anthropogenic Global Warming denialism by creationists - I have heard MacKay deny it first hand.

Double Doh.

In fact their "commentator"(one of only five listed) recently made some very strange comments about CO2 not being poisonous in an online discussion that touched on AGW, I challenged him on his apparent denialism of AGW and rather than say he wasn't denying it he instead made some very odd remarks suggesting that there was nothing to worry about.

Perhaps the Science and Values team ought to do a posting of a debate amongst their own team about whether AGW is real of not - we would be happy to link to it to give them a few hits.

Debunking Corner - Creationists can "explain" the evidence

This is a common claim made by creationists, usually made to non-scientific audiences and in fact I have often seen it made to congregations in churches.

And it's true.

And it is one of the reasons why creationism isn't science.

Let me explain;

Scientists come up with guesses about how the world works, although they call them hypotheses, and then look to see if the guess explains the existing evidence.  If it does, then they try to come up with predictions from the guess/hypothesis of some additional evidence that might be expected but isn't yet available, then they go and try to find this evidence whether by a new experiment or by digging for fossils in a certain place or making a new set of observations with a new piece of scientific hardware.  In this way they are testing their guess against nature and if it doesn't agree with nature then it is wrong.  They are testing it.  This is what scientists do.

If the hypothesis survives lots of attempts to disprove it in this way then it will eventually be elevated to the status of a theory.

On the other hand Creationists simply state that they can explain the evidence.  Of course they can, they have an omnipotent, omniscient being in their hypothesis.  What kind of evidence might such a being not be capable of producing?

Unless they are prepared to make specific claims about exactly what their god did or didn't do and will or won't do in a future experiment then how are they going to test it?

Answer: they aren't.

They don't mind this because they are not trying to find out if it is true or not, they already know it is, it says so in their holy book after all.

Here is a classic example of such a game of "let's pretend to be scientists" from CMI.

Devil's Tower Wyoming as in close encounters of the third kindphoto © 2007 Tim (Timothy) Pearce | more info (via: Wylio)
You can see that they are explaining things in a very sciency way - they even have those little reference numbers and everything.

But they don't make any predictions, they don't do any experiments and so what they do isn't science.  Oh it looks like it.  Look at the little numbers again - see!  Some of them even do a greta impression of real geologists, they have hammers and they even pick up rocks and look at them.  But in reality they are just playing an elaborate game of dressing up.  They are dressing up their religious convictions as science.  They play this word game very well and then they trumpet the fact that they can explain things!

I heard Prof. Andy McIntosh from Leeds University claiming just this to a group of students at York University a few years ago.  He repeated it a few times, "Creationists can explain the evidence. The creation view is totally consistent with the facts."

So there you go.

Just stop for a moment to take in what the creationists are claiming and think about it a little and then marvel at their mendaciousness.

In fact, if you want to you can do it for yourself as CMI and other creationist groups have active meeting programmes in the UK, see here for more details.

Click on the debunking corner label below for more resources on the kinds of arguments creationists make and how to see through them.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Creationism: Anti-science & Anti-Environmentalism

In case you were wondering were the money comes from to send fake textbooks full of creationism cleverly disguised as science to thousands of UK schools and libraries.

Just look at what else they are denying;
From Creationism to Anti-Environmentalism: The Religious Right's Attack on Science Expands
It can no longer be a surprise to anyone that a very vocal and well-funded minority of Christian extremists continue to attack evolutionary theory in the name of their narrow brand of religion. In addition to their attempt to distort the scientific record, these people work hard to fool the media and the general public into believing that they are something other than a fringe group.
In fact, their science is completely at odds with that being promoted by the world's leading scientific societies, and their religious perspective is very far removed from those of the vast majority of the world's religious denominations.
This same collection of religious extremists has now decided to broaden its fight on modern science in the name of religion. Under the auspices of the Cornwall Alliance, a group espousing a "Biblical view" of environmental stewardship, which largely means that anthropogenic global warming is an anti-Biblical myth, environmentalism is now under attack.
Apparently, environmentalism is "deadly to the gospel of Jesus Christ." E. Calvin Beisner, founder of the Cornwall Alliance, outlines his position as clearly as anyone could wish: "The environmental movement has actually become what I call the cult of the green dragon. And we need to be prepared as Christians to rescue people from that cult."

From here.

Latest Noah's Ark Hoax update

The penny is still dropping.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Humanist Society Seeks Tales of Scottish Creationism

From here;

The Humanist Society of Scotland are asking for the general public to provide them with any information, stories or anecdotes they have about creationism or “intelligent design” in Scottish schools.
They are particularly keen on learning of any examples of such ideologies being granted scientific credibility, not only in the science classroom but across the curriculum.  This could take many forms; for example, the insinuation that a controversy exists in the wider scientific community to the provision of creationist/religious answers to scientific questions.
Stories will help form part of a presentation to be made by HSS at April’s Edinburgh Science Festival.
Information will be treated in the strictest confidence and should be e-mailed to:

Creationism in pictures

Friday, 7 January 2011

The title says it all

UK based Ekklesia recently systematically demolished the charade that Intelligent Design is in anyway science.

The Glasgow based Centre for Intelligent Design (C4ID) has replied without actually addressing the points made.

The title of their response says it all;

Intelligent Design is an explanation not an apologetic - a response to Ekklesia 

How does "sometime, somehow, somewhere, for some reason, some things, were designed by something" explain anything?  How can you test it?

It is only when the IDCreationists start to address these issues that they can even claim their position is even vaguely scientific.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Of course creationists aren't Anti-Science (not)

Breathtakingly scary quote;

Besides which, the past can be faked to support whatever thesis an establishment likes …
And an erosion of trust in museums may be long overdue.
This type of thing is impossible to satirise.  It's not just the scientists that are conspiring against creationism now its the museums as well.

But they are not anti-science remember.

Debunking Corner - Pharyngula on Creationism

From here.  PZ is talking about Paul Nelson.  Paul is one of the authors of the creationist tract carefully disguised as a biology textbook and sent to all UK schools at the end of 2009, beginning of 2010;

It's infuriatingly dishonest. Notice what he repeats over and over: the textbooks "diverge from the actual evidence," they're "out of touch with the actual evidence," we "need to take these standard stories back to the evidence." This, from the Discovery Institute, a propaganda mill with no evidence for their fantasies about design at all. There is such an egregious disconnect between what Nelson says and what he and his cronies do that I half-expected his sanctimonious head to explode. If you're an intelligent design creationists, you do not have the privilege of hectoring others about evidence.
. . .
The creationists weren't just wrong, they're on the wrong side of history, and day by day they are bing shown to be increasingly far off base.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Debunking Corner : On the gain of genes and gene function

From Wonderful Life;

Michael Behe recently published a review article in the Quarterly Review of Biology entitled Experimental evolution, loss-of-function mutations, and “the first rule of adaptive evolution” (subscription required), which consists largely of a review of laboratory experiments addressing the adaptive response of microorganisms to simple environmental changes. Behe generates a new definition – Functional Coded elemenTs (FCTs), essentially any segment of DNA that has a biological function, and a “rule”, the “first rule of adaptive evolution”, which essentially states that the majority of adaptive changes reflect mutational events are those which impair or eliminate FCT function.

Creationist mentality on show

From the excellent Dispersal of Darwin;

Sunday, 2 January 2011

The World Around Us "virtual museum" - An analysis

Here I describe the nature of the site and give an overview of its logic, rhetoric, and intellectual quality. I add as an appendix, keyed to the site itself, a frame by frame content analysis, for completeness and reference purposes, and to justify the strength of the opinions I have expressed.

This is a Creationist (indeed, in part at least, a Young Earth Creationist) site. Any student who uses this as a resource will be completely misled. Any teacher using it will be in violation of guidelines, and at risk of career damage.
This site continues the post-Dover phase of Creationist activity, as exemplified by Truth in Science, Explore Evolution, and C4ID. It is characterised by anonymity (we are not even told who wrote the text, deniability (the religious agenda is not stated, and the site claims merely to be offering suggestions for consideration), and a mixture of turgid post-modern philosophising, straw man arguments, distortions of established science, and presentation of fringe science as mainstream. The overall purpose is to undermine confidence in established cosmology, geology, physics, and biological science, and to invite consideration of the crypto-Creationist alternative. The graphics chosen to illustrate this self-styled virtual museum are selected to further its agenda, are widely available elsewhere, and are nowhere adequately explained. The reading list is a collection of polemical works spanning the range of Creationist and anti-evolutionary positions. There is no way in which visiting this site is likely to further anyone’s understanding or knowledge of science.
The process of deception begins with the site’s name; The World Around Us is the name given to a section of the official Northern Ireland curriculum. (Much as Explore Evolution mimics the name of a major US National Science Foundation educational initiative.) Like Truth in Science and Explore Evolution, the site quotes selectively from the UK national curriculum about the importance of learning from evidence. The conclusions of scientific investigations are then misdescribed as assumptions, and the use of naturalistic explanation is misdescribed as a philosophical self-limitation, rather than as an empirically justified methodology. A false contrast is drawn between the methods of history and those of science as currently practised. It is claimed, in a clumsy attempt to establish a toehold for supernatural design in the historical sciences, that history answers “why?” questions. This it does not, except in the trivial sense that human action and motivation is part of the subject matter. (In this sense, the social and psychological sciences also answer “why?” questions). The existence of marginal disagreements, or even the agreed existence of limitations and the need for precautions, is presented as evidence of fundamental problems. All this lays the ground work for the eventual baseless claim that present-day cosmology, geology and evolutionary biology are in a state of crisis, and ripe for a paradigm change.
The site claims to “draw on mainstream science”, but does this only in the sense that Loch Ness monster hunters draw on mainstream zoology. It uses the familiar rhetorical methods of Creationist pseudoscience, including false dichotomy, misrepresentation of the conclusions of scientific papers, distortion of the record of the subject’s development, resurrection of long resolved controversies, and failure to distinguish between peer-reviewed scientific research reports, opinion pieces in bona fide scientific journals, and the purely Creationist literature. There are signs of careless editing of the text, and of the pasting in of much older material. In biology, evidence of minor change is highlighted as not being evidence of major change (as if anyone ever said it was), while the evidence of major change is suppressed. In geology, on the other hand, the occurrence of rapid “catastrophic” episodes is explicitly described as evidence against the gradualism of anything in between. The constancy of radioactive decay rates is described as a questionable assumption, in deplorable ignorance of the way that these rates follow inexorably from fundamental physical laws. (As it happens, my favourite exposition of our reasons for trusting radiometric dates,  is entitled Radiometric Dating - A Christian Perspective. Wiens is incidentally concerned with the theological as well as the scientific shortcomings of Creationism, but such matters are beyond the scope of BCSE.)
To sum up, this site is indeed a museum. A museum of horrors.

Professor Paul S. Braterman, MA, DPhil, DSc

The full article together with the appendix can be seen here.

It's not just about evolution anymore . . .

From here;

It's not just about evolution anymore. Growing anti-science sentiment in the United States now infuses public discourse on conservation, vaccination, distribution of research funds, and climate change (1). Low rates of scientific literacy (2) exacerbate the problem. Although the public recognizes its indebtedness to the products of scientific knowledge, few understand much about the nature of that knowledge or the processes that generated it (3). Without a basic understanding of how science works, the public is vulnerable to antiscience propaganda, which engenders distrust of science when it comes to social issues, consumer choices, and policy decisions.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Evolution of Morality

Debunking Corner - Why there are no missing links

From here;

This topic came up earlier this week: creationists are always yammering about the "missing link" and how it's missing and therefore evolution is unsupported by the evidence. It's total nonsense, since evolution doesn't predict a "missing link", but it seemed worthwhile to explain why, since there was a recent publication of some exciting data that demonstrates the real complexity of the situation.

Debunking corner: Creationists wrong about evo-devo too

An excellent summary of a recent paper on Pharyngula here;

When last we left this subject, I had pointed out that the phenomenon of embryonic similarity within a phylum was real, and that the creationists were in a state of dishonest denial, arguing with archaic interpretations while trying to pretend the observations were false. I also explained that constraints on morphology during development were complex, and that it was going to take something like a thorough comparative analysis of large sets of gene expression data in order to drill down into the mechanisms behind the phylotypic stage.
Guess what? The comparative analysis of large sets of gene expression data is happening. And the creationists are wrong, again.

What else does the anti-science of creationism and intelligent design get you?

Denial of global warming.

Comprehensive conspiracy theory in full flow here;

Oh how the heat over global warming has cooled as global warming predictions have failed. I wonder how many global warming scientists in England are stranded trying to travel for the holidays by snow. Yes, everyone knows what a wolf looks like, but for our present purposes I think it much more important to know what a fox looks like.

Will anybody give them a dictionary and point out that "climate" is not "weather".

Debunking corner: What is wrong with ID - from an ex-creationist

From here;

Of course, the main problem with Intelligent Design is that the people promoting it claim not to be doing it from religious motives when many of them are fundamentalist Christians who have previously promoted religious creationism. The reason for this is that they want ID taught as part of the UK school curriculum and they can’t do that if they tell the truth and say its a religious doctrine. So much for their claim that God is a God of truth. For me this is the real problem with ID. If people want to promote creationism then let them do it honestly. Dishonesty like this just brings Christianity further into disrepute. You can read more about this in my article "why creationism is bad for Christianity".

Creationism by Lewis Black