Monday, September 29, 2008

Frogs and Princes

There is no fossil evidence connecting frogs and princes. The more we learn from genetics, the more we find out how impossible it is for a frog to turn into a prince (even if you do have an ape-like creature in the middle somewhere). A frog doesn’t look anything like a prince, and evolution has never been observed.

This pearl of wisdom was brought to you by Ian Juby, who seems to be confusing evolutionary theory with the Brothers Grimm.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Handy Dandy Evolution Refuter

The Handy Dandy Evolution Refuter is a creationist manual for Christian students, and is available online here. One of its Appendices is called "What Students can do to Counterattack Evolution and Change the Schools". This is some of the advice they give:

Develop a sharp eye for dogmatic statements, i.e., statements of "fact" that cannot be demonstrated to be factual.

Learn how to ask intelligent, probing questions that expose dogma for what it is.

Demand empirical evidence for all statements of faith.

Now that's some good advice right there, for all Christians.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Moron of the Month: Gerald Schroeder

Gerald Schroeder is "an MIT-trained scientist who has worked in both physics and biology", and now spends his time "melding" scientific theories with the Bible. Here he tries to reconcile the six literal 24-hour days of creation from Genesis with all that pesky scientific evidence showing that the universe is in fact billions of years old. He has a wacky theory involving general relativity and time-dilation effects that, according to him, proves both viewpoints are simultaneously true:

Once you come from Adam, the flow of time is totally in human terms. Adam and Eve live 130 years before having children! Seth lives 105 years before having children, etc. From Adam forward, the flow of time is totally human in concept. But prior to that time, it's an abstract concept: "Evening and morning." It's as if you're looking down on events from a viewpoint that is not intimately related to them.


Elsewhere, he states:

As a nuclear physicist who has served on the staff of MIT and as a member of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, I have undertaken extensive research of the natural world in light of the Biblical account. My conclusion? I see no contradiction between them whatsoever.

It's amazing what lengths creationists will go to in order to reconcile scientific facts with what's written in their holy book. This guy is taking a fresh approach - just accept both sides of the argument and "meld" them together. I guess if you're going to believe all 1200 pages of nonsense in the Bible, a few extra pages of pseudo-scientific twaddle like that found on Gerald's website should be pretty easy to swallow.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Atheist Blogroll

Creationist Idiocy is now on the Atheist Blogroll. For more information, or to add your blog to the list, check out Mojoey's blog Deep Thoughts.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Creationism in the UK III

Well, less than a day after my previous post on the matter, the latest in UK creationism news is that Professor Michael Reiss has quit as director of education at the Royal Society after making comments in favour of discussing creationism in school science classes. He claimed that creationism deserved to be discussed since it is a popular world-view. While there's no denying that the creationist world-view is a belief system held by a great many people, it has absolutely no scientific support, and therefore has no place in a science classroom. By all means discuss it in a religion or sociology class, but keep it out of the biology lessons.

Here's part of the Royal Society's statement:

The Royal Society's position is that creationism has no scientific basis and should not be part of the science curriculum However, if a young person raises creationism in a science class, teachers should be in a position to explain why evolution is a sound scientific theory and why creationism is not, in any way, scientific.

I'm glad they're taking a tough stance on this. Go UK!

Darwin 1, Creationbrits 0

Monday, September 15, 2008

Creationism in the UK II

Seems I might have been a little naive in my previous entry. Check out some of the comments at the end of this BBC article about creationism's rise in the UK. Some lowlights:

It was partly a serious study of evolution that led me to conclude that I'd rather be the product of a creationary God than an evolutionary accident, and so embrace Christianity. I am so pleased I did, life has become so much less gloomy.
Robert Harper, Battle, England

It doesn't matter what you prefer, Robert. Truth isn't a matter of taste.

What is wrong with letting those that believe in God also believe in what God did?
Chrono, Norfolk

Because it's stupid. And, more importantly, untrue.

Evolutionists begin with the pre-supposition that there is no God.
Martin Green, Bradford

Preposterous! Creationists interpret evidence with the pre-supposition of biblical truth.

As a born again Christian, I believe in creationism and will teach my children the same belief. Trying to prove that Man evolved from monkeys because there may be some similarities, is like trying to prove that humming birds evolved from helicopters because they both fly.
Andre Odogwu, London

This guy is putting his children at a serious disadvantage, and denying them the wondrous truth of their origins.

I find creationism more plausible, easier to understand, and leaving oneself quite satisfied.
Stefan, London

Well Stefan, I guess it's easier to read one book than a bunch of hard ones.

Somehow, seeing all this happening back home is much more depressing to me than seeing it happen in the US. At least there are a few bright sparks who've posted some intelligent comments, and knowing the BBC's passion for giving either side of every argument exactly 50% of the coverage (instead of investigating thoroughly and presenting the truth, as should be their duty as journalists), I doubt that these comments are truly representative. If they are, UK science education is in big trouble...

Creationism in the UK

Unfortunately, creationist idiocy is not confined to North American shores, but is also invading my home country. Yep, us Europeans are perfectly capable of breeding a bunch of stupid, ill-informed cretins of our own, it seems. They've nothing new to say, though, and are trotting out the same tired old lies and non-arguments as their US counterparts. Check out some of the following quotes from the UK's Creation Science Movement website:

By way of comparison, it is possible to calculate the number of possible events in the universe, even if full of organic soup (The Universal Probability Bound). A universe full of organic soup could contain 10^80 molecules, multiplied by 15 billion years approximates to 10^18 seconds, multiplied by for instance the frequency of gamma rays 10^20 equals 10^118 posible events. What can be seen therefore is that the number permutations on one average length protein exceeds the possible events in the universe and could not have happened by chance.

Well, it didn't happen by chance, no scientist claims that. It happened by evolution and natural selection. This is simple stuff... come on, guys.

The origin of man intrigues all of us. The Sunday Times for the 20th August 1995 reported: ‘The scientists themselves are confused. A series of recent discoveries has forced them to tear up simplistic charts on which they blithely draw linkages from Apes to Man. The classic family tree delineating man’s ascent from apes, familiar to us from school, has given way to the concept of genetic islands. The bridgework between them is anyone’s guess.’

Is a news article dating from over a decade ago really the most reliable source they could find on current evolutionary theory? Is it even relevant at all? You creationists might insist on clinging onto your 2000-year-old, unalterable ideas, but us scientists have this little concept we call "progress".

In the 19th century Darwin wrote about evolution. 140 years on, scientific advances have undermined his ideas. If our present knowledge of genetics, information science and so on had been around then, his theory would not have got off the ground. Each fossil shows separate Creation. In other words nothing changes from one kind to another. For example, there is no halfway stage between the reptile and the bird.

Apart from archaeopteryx, only the most famous fossil ever discovered, which has the skeletal structure of a lizard with a long, bony tail, but bird-like forearms modified for flight, complete with avian feathers that are still visible in the fossil. Plus hundreds of other transitional forms. Plus the fact that modern genetics is not only compatible with Darwin's theory, but actually makes no sense at all without it... Must try harder, creationbrits!


Elsewhere on the website, things start getting really stupid:

Adam needed a wife. Put the character for ‘two’ with the character for ‘persons’ and we have the word ‘beginning’. The word for ‘covet’, meaning to want something a lot, is especially interesting. It is made of the Chinese character for ‘woman’ and two ‘trees’. Eve ate the forbidden fruit and by disobeying God missed the reward of the second tree. Two trees figure in Eve’s and Adams downfall.

The ancient Chinese knew about this history. We find the story of Noah in the Chinese character for ‘boat’. One part means ‘vessel’ another part means ‘eight’ and the final part means ‘mouth’ or ‘person’. Noah and his family numbered eight people on the boat which survived the great Flood.

The word Create: dust + life or motion + mouth or person = speak + walk = create.

The one thing that gives me hope is that, in my experience of living in both the UK and North America, Brits are a lot less willing to suffer bullshit like this than those across the pond, and religion is far less prominent in day-to-day life. So I really can't see the creationists gaining too much ground there. Let's hope that my faith in the UK isn't misplaced.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

Dissent from Darwin III: Project Steve

Having recently discussed and Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity, I should mention a third group of qualified individuals signing up in support of a statement regarding evolution. This time, though, there are two crucial differences. These doctors are fully in support of evolution. And they're all named Steve. Here's the statement they're supporting:

Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the biological sciences, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry. Although there are legitimate debates about the patterns and processes of evolution, there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence. It is scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible for creationist pseudoscience, including but not limited to "intelligent design," to be introduced into the science curricula of our nation's public schools.

So far, well over 800 Stevens, Stephens, Stephanies, Stefans, etc. have signed up. There's even a song.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dissent from Darwin II

In a previous post I discussed the 700 PhD petition. In a very similar vein, Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity is a club you can join (for the princely sum of $350!) to advertise your mistrust of evolution:

The purpose of PSSI is to educate the public about the scientific facts regarding the hypothesis of Darwinian macroevolution.

Immediately below this statement is a list of "resources" consisting of a handfull of well-known creationist books and DVDs, but not a single scientific paper, no Origin of Species, nothing by Dawkins, or Gould, or Maynard Smith, not even a single biology textbook. How's that for scientific integrity?

Amusingly, they apparently don't have too many members and had to resort to padding out their list of signatories by listing the names three different ways. And by including dentists. ;-)