Field of Science

Creationists Respond and Spanked

I put up a post the other day in response to a question I was asked. It must have been one of my better ones because it has raised some creationist hackles. Of course there are significant issues with comprehension, which doesn't surprise me based on their understanding of basic biology.
First to come at me is Cornelius Hunter who seems to get the vapors when adults use bad words like dumbass, which he writes as dumb***. I mean really? See, in this make believe world writing things like 'fuck' is bad, but writing things lke 'f@ck' is acceptable. The meaning is not important, its the order of the letters that imparts some magical power, like CONSTANTINOPLE.

Cornelius starts by using the example of a poker game where each person has an amazingly strong hand. He then states that everyone know the hand was rigged. This is another example of an inappropriate 'what are the odds?' scenario I addressed in my previous post. I'll let him speak for himself.
For instance, evolutionists claim that all the evidence supports evolution. Amazingly, they say there is no contradictory evidence, no scientific problems to deal with.
When I first heard this argument I was astonished. But when you are certain you are right, then any and all arguments must support evolution.
What is this contradictory evidence? Does poker constitute evidence? Show me where a scientist has said there are no scientific problems to deal with.

'But when you are certain you are right, then any and all arguments must support evolution.' is laughable coming from a creationist. Pot, Kettle?
You can see an example of this claim here where an evolution professor calls some mathematicians dumb***** (while issuing several other profanities) and assures his readers that he is “unaware of any general concerns with the theory of evolution that is not steeped in religion.” One reason the professor makes this monumental scientific blunder is a fundamental yet typical misunderstanding of our second principle above.
I stand by that claim. We do not understand everything, unlike you apparently. This is why we still do research and continue to ask questions. How much do selection and drift contribute to the evolutionary process? How do genome duplications promote speciation? But these are not general concerns with the theory. Instead of handwaving on your fainting couch about my f*cking word choices, tell us a general concern with the theory of evolution that is not steeped in religion?
While it was obvious to most of us that the poker game was rigged, evolutionists make another one of their losing arguments to get around the problem.
Is that your concern, the theory of evolution does not fit with your cute analogy? Well unfortunately your analogy sucks (I hope sucks is ok on his delicate sensibilities). Cornelius quoted my points using the lottery to show how trivial it is to get big probability numbers for his readers, he then did the sweet little trick of using that against me.
There you have it. The creationist is wrong again. All of biology isn’t improbable any more than winning a million jackpots. All outcomes are equiprobable so a royal flush, CONSTANTINOPLE, and yes evolution, are not at all unlikely. 
Of course, he left off this little part of my post that is kind of relevant.
The assumptions used to make the calculations regarding evolution in the first place are suspect (wrong is a better word, fraudulent is the best word because those making these arguments have had it explained to them before). For example, the assumption in these types of calculations is that there were a bunch of chemicals and then WHAM these chemicals came together to form the first cell. First, no scientist worth her salt has ever made such a claim, although a lot of creationists have. I don’t want to get into a discussion about the origin of life in this post, but I do want to stress that I have never seen the absurd idea that cells just poofed into existence fully formed from scratch except by creationists. Irony alert: creationists think life zapped into being en masse by god, but ridicule biologists for thinking cells zapped into being en masse by evolution (even though biologists don’t think that).
I pointed out that scientists don't think life is like the lottery system (or his poker analogy). However, he ignores that and continues to suggest scientists do think that and then uses that to tear down evolution. That's called a Straw Man fallacy. The person who continually does it is an *sshole, I mean asshole. (I'll point out profanity is not in the commandments, but lying is.)
Second, to come at me is the Discovery Institute. It makes me a little sad that the traffic coming to AbC from the DI, the flagship of the creationist movement, is less than from Cornelius. The sadness is that I may send a couple of page views their way.

Anyway, the DI post is nothing but a rant that seems to be written be someone who will may be institutionalized soon.
An anonymous professor at the University of Minnesota writes a blog that came to our attention because he tries to knock down not an actual argument for intelligent design but the most simplistic parody, provided to him not by any actual ID advocate but by an unnamed female friend whom he quotes: 
It's pseudonymous, not anonymous and why does that status of my friend's identity matter? Also, if you read the post (or at least didn't lie about it), then you know I was not knocking down an argument for ID. I was answering a question asked by an 'unnamed' friend. Oh wait, it's right there in that sentence you wrote. So you're upset I responded to a thoughtful question someone asked me?
Replying under the title "Evolution: Time Is on Our Side," the professor-blogger not only doesn't write under his own name but is cagey about what department he teaches in -- though he says he has "a background in Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology." The blog itself is called, promisingly, "Angry by Choice."
How is it cagey? It says right in the about section available in the top right corner of every page of my blog "Oh, the opinions expressed here are my personal viewpoints and not those of my employer, family, or dog." Yes, my blog name is promisingly named Angry by Choice, like yours is promisingly named 'Evolution News and Views'. Unlike my blog, which actually has attitude that I choose to use as my voice (hence the name), your blog is a creationist mouth  piece. I love the suspicious style used by this anonymous writer on a website that does not allow commenting.  

Then there's a paragraph that tells their readers I made fun of them (I didn't mention the DI at all, though I did mention creationists), suggests they have rebuttals to my points, and then hits us with none of those rebuttals.
Maybe Dr. Angry is ticked off because he couldn't cut it at the U. of M.'s elite Morris campus, where our buddy PZ Myers teaches. Even PZ seems more familiar with the Darwin-doubting arguments he derides than this fellow does, and surely everyone knows that if you want to refute an idea convincingly you need to go to a sophisticated presentation of it and argue against that. To make things really easy for Angry, we suggest that he do a word search here at ENV for the phrase "probabilistic resources."
Really? I love the insult me, the entire UMN-Morris campus, and Professor Myers at the same time. You guys are precious. Regardless, let me grant that their 'probabilistic resources' are correct (they aren't, this is simply for the sake of argument). Go to the post in question and read the first part. Initially there was a mathematical argument to think the Theory of Evolution as proposed by Darwin was not correct. However, that mathematical argument was subsequently shown to be based on incorrect assumptions. The ID movement argues that their math nullifies all evidence that supports the Theory of Evolution, from fossils to genomics to observations of populations over time. Isn't it possible that maybe, just maybe, their assumptions are wrong (they are). 

Finally, DI ends with this.
But we're not holding our breath. This is how these folks always respond to probabilistic arguments against Darwinism (or materialistic origin of life scenarios). They implicitly treat the prior probability of alternatives such as ID as being vanishingly close to zero. Therefore, something like Darwinian evolution must be true, since we're here. So whatever the improbability, the actual proves the possible, and there's only one possibility worth considering.
Which just goes to show that no argument is sufficient to persuade the committed materialist. It doesn't follow that there aren't good arguments available for the open minded.
See, they suggest I do something (and presumably every scientist that understands evolution) and then come back at them. They then assume I won't and conclude that no one ever will. I understand that position. They have made the same arguments for decades, been responded to numerous times, and ignored those responses. It makes sense they assume everyone else acts the same way.

Although in this case they are right. I don't have the time or the emotional energy to read their crap now, although Behe's Darwin's Black Box is on my shelf of books to read. I suggest they or their readers look a the ruling on the Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial on teaching Intelligent Design.

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