Weaving a web of lies

Honesty is really the best policy. If you start with a lie, and then won’t admit it, you are forced to continue lying. In the end you create a web of lies, each dependent on the other. It’s like juggling a whole lot of balls. It requires a lot of effort and is ultimately self-defeating as it’s impossible to keep track of the whole web.

The creationist arguments are just like that. And today its easy for even the most amateur creationist to construct these arguments by copying and pasting from creationist web sites. These sites have done all the quote mining work and provide plenty of material. Even those who are scientifically challenged can put together arguments which appear scientific and authoriatative to others who are similarly challenged. These arguments also work well with people who desperately wish to find evidence for their fundamentalist religious belief.

Using ‘science’

It’s interesting that people who have no real regard for science, and are actually working hard to discredit modern science, feel the need to ‘use’ science to support their arguments!

However it is hard for creationists to hide from their audience the fact that evolutionary science is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientifically literate. Even amongst society in general only about 20% of New Zealanders refuse to accept evolution. So how do the creationist propagandist overcome this problem? How do they explain to their audience that despite the ‘facts’ they have copied and pasted the people who do understand the science, the people who have studied and researched this whole area, the experts, do actually support evolutionary science?

Well, it’s too late to tell the truth. That would destroy the whole web of lies they have constructed. So they a forced into another lie. And this one is a whopper!

The ‘Expelled’ whopper

This lie claims the experts accept evolutionary science – because it’s a conspiracy!! People are sacked from their jobs if they don’t accept the “lie.” They are ‘bullied’ into silence by the scientific establishment. They are prevented from publishing the truth from their research by the “peer review” system. And so on. It’s all familiar to us now because of that nasty little documentary  Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. And it’s coming to a Church basement near you in New Zealand. Any day soon the Christian fundamentalist and Apologetics network will get into action and start screening the newly-released video.

Of course these creationist propagandists see New Zealand Christians as the natural constituency for their propaganda. This constituency is more accepting because the more fundamentalist of them fear that modern science negates their faith. They also inappropriately feel that the harsh reality of natural history somehow has implications for how human society should work.

The fossils lie

Now, just for a bit of entertainment, here are some of the lies presented in a recent anti-evolution tract on the New Zealand Christian apologist website “Thinking Matters”:

“Stephen Jay Gould, professor of Zoology and Geology at Harvard University, conceded this point and so proposed an amendment to evolutionary theory called Punctuated Equilibria to explain away the absence of transitional forms.”

This is a bit out of date (a problem with copy and paste) as Gould died in 2002. However, in 1983 he expressed his resentment at this creationist distortion of his ideas:

“Faced with these facts of evolution and the philosophical bankruptcy of their own position, creationists rely upon distortion and innuendo to buttress their rhetorical claim. If I sound sharp or bitter, indeed I am-for I have become a major target of these practices. . . . . . Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists-whether through design or stupidity, I do not know-as admitting that the fossil record includes no tran­sitional forms. Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups. “

Second law of thermodynamics

As a chemist I feel offended when creationists take a thermodynamic law which applies to a closed system and dishonestly apply it to part of an open system as Thinking Matters does in its claim that evolution violates this law:

“the idea of life springing from non-life butts its head against the rock of the second law of Thermodynamics. It states that the amount of usable energy in the universe is deteriorating.”

Just not true! The earth, where life evolved, is not a closed or isolated system.

Inappropriate improbability

Creationists certainly love big numbers – especially when they inappropriately use them to prove evolution ‘improbable.’ Of course, to do this they must set up a straw man – their liem that evolutionary changes result from chance!! They should really spend a few minutes contemplating the title of Richard Dawkins’ book Climbing Mount Improbable. Charles Darwin’s contribution to evolutionary science was about natural selection – not chance.

But creationists seem to have no shame and here is what Thinking Matters has to say:

“The calculations of any reaction taking place to form life is somewhere in the order of one chance in 10 to the power of 40,000.”

“. . . the chances of a single protein containing only 100 amino acids would form spontaneously is less than one chance in 10 to the 65th power.”

“. . . the chance of obtaining the required set of enzymes for even the simplest living cell is one in 10 to the 40,000th power.”

” . . . the chance of a single bacteria arising by chance is one in 10 to the hundred-billionth power.”

“The odds they calculated for the assembly of the human gnome (sic) was somewhere around 4 to the -360th power to the 110,000th power — simply an incomprehensible number.”

What a waste of words – and numbers!

The improbability of creation

The irony is that while the small steps in natural selection have a high probability the huge creation step doesn’t. The numbers given by Thinking Matters really should be applied to the acts of special creation required by their ideas. It is them, not evolutionists, who require spontaneous formation from constituent atoms of life, enzymes, bacteria and human genomes. Darwin, in The Origin of Species, ridiculed this idea of creationists by asking:

did theyreally believe that at innumerable periods in the earth’s history certain elemental atoms have been commanded suddenly to flash into living tissue?”

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28 responses to “Weaving a web of lies

  1. Your just in denial, Ken!
    The Intelligent Designer zapped everything into existence.
    (Probably by crossing his arms and blinking his eyes.)
    Here’s the video….

    http://religiousfreaks.com/2006/07/09/evolution-vs-creationism-family-guy-style/

    Like

  2. Great post, agree entirely. It will be interesting to see what impact Expelled makes here, I suspect very little.

    The SLT one bothers me too – because it is simply wrong by definition. There are small gaps in evolution for them to play in but no gaps at all in the SLT. In fact many authors define life (loosely) as something that continuously generates of negentropy from external energy sources so to say the SLT prevents life is a bit ironic 🙂

    Like

  3. The Intelligent Designer zapped everything into existence.

    Or the non-intelligent, completely blind and stupid forces of nature created themselves, and us. Just think, you were created by the stupid forces of nature Cedric – that explains it!

    Like

  4. my biggest problem with this article, Ken, is that you ASSUME all churches must have basements…

    (insert rip-roaring knee-slapping here)

    😀

    -d-

    Like

  5. @ Dale, October 20, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Yes – it seems to be a common literary allusion. I wonder how it arose. I do have a picture from films about the US struggle against segregation of those young girls killed in a church basement bombed by racists. I guess, in New Zealand, we should say Church hall.

    Enjoyed the video, Cedric. I like the Guiness take on Evolution. It does provide a purpose to it all.

    Like

  6. @5:

    Great video 🙂

    I prefer Kilkenny, though 😉

    Like

  7. “Or the non-intelligent, completely blind and stupid forces of nature created themselves, and us.”

    What are you talking about? Where are you getting your information from?
    Are you reading a science text book that actually says…” non-intelligent, completely blind and stupid forces of nature created themselves, and us”?
    Hmmm? Don’t think so.
    Enough with your ignorace. Read a book on science. Stop creating a strawman.
    Get back to us when you’re done.
    🙂

    ……………………………………………

    “…my biggest problem with this article, Ken, is that you ASSUME all churches must have basements…’

    (chuckle)

    Like

  8. Typo.
    Should be “ignorance” Meh!

    Like

  9. non-intelligent, completely blind and stupid forces of nature created themselves, and us?

    You mean the forces that created the universe and us were intellgent,and had purpose? And were really smart? If not, my point was competely correct…

    Like

  10. “You mean the forces that created the universe and us were intelligent,and had purpose, And were really smart?”

    You clearly have reading comprehension problems.

    I am saying that when you say…”“Or the non-intelligent, completely blind and stupid forces of nature created themselves, and us.” that this is ignorant.

    You are just making this up as you’re going along.
    You didn’t find this in a science text book.
    Did you?
    No.

    “…If not, my point was competely correct…”

    Don’t be silly. You don’t get to call it.

    Read a book on science. Stop creating a strawman.
    Get back to us when you’re done.
    All you are is a back seat driver. A blind back-seat driver. In a PARKED car.
    (yawn)

    Like

  11. I am saying that when you say…”“Or the non-intelligent, completely blind and stupid forces of nature created themselves, and us.” that this is ignorant.

    Then show me exactly where I was wrong:

    Non-intelligent – not thinking or intending.

    Stupid – lacking reason.

    Blind – no intending goal or purpose.

    Or are you suggesting that the forces of nature were reasoned, had intelligence (thinking), and had a goal or purpose?

    Put up Cedric, show me where I am wrong…

    Like

  12. “Then show me exactly where I was wrong”

    Certainly.

    “Or the non-intelligent, completely blind and stupid forces of nature created themselves, and us.”

    This part here. See? Just above this line here.
    You see, nobody actually goes around saying this.
    There is no science text book mentioning this at all.
    You are just making it up.
    It’s silly.

    Like

  13. “Or the non-intelligent, completely blind and stupid forces of nature created themselves, and us.”

    This part here. See? Just above this line here.
    You see, nobody actually goes around saying this.
    There is no science text book mentioning this at all.
    You are just making it up.
    It’s silly.

    I don’t care what science texts say. Show me where I defined these things incorrectly. Be specific please…

    Like

  14. “I don’t care what science texts say.”

    Well, there’s your problem. Perhaps you should try reading them.

    If you did, you would find that none of them say ““Or the non-intelligent, completely blind and stupid forces of nature created themselves, and us.”

    None of them. You just made it up.
    Admit it.

    Like

  15. Show me where I defined these things incorrectly…

    See Cedric, you can not argue with my definitions. You can not show them to be wrong. So you are just ranting again…

    Like

  16. “See Cedric, you can not argue with my definitions.”

    All I’m doing is pointing out that you made a silly and ignorant statement.

    ““Or the non-intelligent, completely blind and stupid forces of nature created themselves, and us.”

    You didn’t get this from anywhere. You just made it up.

    “I don’t care what science texts say.”

    Exactly my point. Educated people DO care what the science text books say. Smart people refer to them. You shouldn’t just go around making crap up.
    🙂

    Be an adult. Pick up a science book. Read.

    Like

  17. “See Cedric, you can not argue with my definitions.”

    All I’m doing is pointing out that you made a silly and ignorant statement.

    ““Or the non-intelligent, completely blind and stupid forces of nature created themselves, and us.”

    You didn’t get this from anywhere. You just made it up.

    “I don’t care what science texts say.”

    Exactly my point. Educated people DO care what the science text books say. Smart people refer to them. You shouldn’t just go around making crap up.

    Cedric, one last time. You could not refute my definition. It was accurate, as I’m sure the readers and lurkers understand. To my second point – why does science have the last word on these matters? Why does science get to define these things? What does it matter what science says if my definition is “true?” And you have not shown my definition to be untrue…

    Now run along…

    Like

  18. James, stop hitting the re-set button.
    It doesn’t make your position any stronger.

    “Or the non-intelligent, completely blind and stupid forces of nature created themselves, and us.” is a silly and ignorant thing to say.
    Scientists and educated people who understand science don’t go around saying rubbish like this.
    You can’t defend it, as I’m sure the readers and lurkers understand.

    “You could not refute my definition.”
    Clean up your own slop. You said it, not me.

    “To my second point…”

    You don’t have a point.

    “I don’t care what science texts say.”
    Perfect. Sums you up nicely.

    Like

  19. First, scientist do speak like this:

    “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.”

    Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden…

    Blind and purposeless. No design, so no intelligence. Exactly what I have been saying. Perhaps Dawkins is not a scientist or educated?

    Like

  20. “Blind and purposeless. No design, so no intelligence. Exactly what I have been saying.”

    (awkward silence)

    James, this is the Internet.

    Everything you wrote down is…still there.
    Honest.
    If I want to find out “exactly” what you have been saying then I just scroll up a little bit and read it.

    What did you say, exactly? Let’s be exact, shall we?
    Let’s quote you in full and not change a blessed thing.

    (shakes head sadly)

    “Or the non-intelligent, completely blind and stupid forces of nature created themselves, and us.”

    These are your words.
    Now let’s look at Richard Dawkins…

    “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.”

    Go ahead.
    Spot the difference.

    Did you say “No design”? Nope.
    Did you say “No purpose”? Nope.
    Did you say “No evil and no good?” Nope.
    Did you say “Blind”? Yep. Hand the man a cigar.

    (insert tepid round of applause from the studio audience here)

    Did you say “pitiless indifference”? Nope.
    Were you talking about the universe and it’s properties? Nope.

    How about Richard Dawkins?

    Did he say “Non-intelligent”. Nope.
    Did he say “Stupid”? Nope.
    Was he talking about forces of Nature creating themselves and us.
    Nope.

    Fish. Barrel.

    ““I don’t care what science texts say.”

    Yet you seem to care about what Richard Dawkins has to say.
    Good for you.
    Where was the quote from?
    Oh yes, that’s right.
    The book is called “River out of Eden”

    Here’s an interview with Dawkins where he talks about his book.
    Interesting stuff.
    http://scepsis.ru/eng/articles/id_3.php

    Like

  21. Oh please Cedric, that is so weak and desperate… Game, set and match Homer… Now run along…

    Like

  22. James bleated…”Oh please Cedric, that is so weak and desperate… ”

    Yes, it is weak and desperate.
    Trying to justify your ignorant drivel by grabbing a quote off the Internet by Dawkins (whom you’ve never read) is indeed weak and desperate.
    Shame on you.

    “I don’t care what science texts say”

    You are a back seat driver. A blind back seat driver. In a PARKED car.
    Be an adult. Pick up a science book. Read.

    Like

  23. Cedric, I would be upset to if I believed that non-intelligent, completely blind and stupid forces of nature created me. After all, if the forces that created you were unintelligent, stupid, and blind (purposeless) what does that say about you? You know what they say, the apple does not fall far from the tree…

    Like

  24. Oh come on you two! I think I’m going to have to send you both to your rooms. Just ignore each other; don’t you see how futile your conversations are? I used to love Open Parachute.

    Like

  25. Oh come on you two! I think I’m going to have to send you both to your rooms. Just ignore each other; don’t you see how futile your conversations are? I used to love Open Parachute.

    Ok, I’ll drop it… sorry…

    Like

  26. “Ok, I’ll drop it… sorry…”

    I doubt it.
    You’ll just continue the same ignorant rubbish on another thread.
    Get a life.
    Or at least get an education.

    Like

  27. Pingback: Answering Objections to ‘The Argument from Evolution’ Part 1 : Thinking Matters Talk

  28. Answering Objections to ‘The Argument from Evolution’ Part 1 & 2

    Hello Ken and attendees,

    I am the author of the article “Argument from Evolution” released on Thinking Matters. You laid a few charges at the door so to speak, and have tripped a few times getting there. I wished to address some of the problems and have done so.

    To outline what I perceive these charges to be: (1) being anti-evolution; (2) upholding a ‘web of lies’ by citing ‘bulling’ tactics from evolutionists that curtail of the freedom of inquiry; (3) The illegitimate use of a quotation by Stephen J Gould that speaks of a lack of transitional forms in the fossil record; (4) the illegitimate use of probability calculations to substantiate fault in evolutionary models; (5) the illegitimate use of the second law of thermodynamics and (6) that these improbability calculations should equally apply to creation models.

    For (1) to (3) see Part 1
    For (4) to (6) see Part 2

    Here are the links:
    http://talk.thinkingmatters.org.nz/2008/answering-objections-to-the-argument-from-evolution-part-1/
    http://talk.thinkingmatters.org.nz/2008/answering-objections-to-the-argument-from-evolution-part-2/

    Like

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