Saturday, June 27, 2009

Moron of the Month: Sean McDowell

Sean McDowell runs Worldview Ministries, whose mission statement is "Teaching Truth to Transform Lives". Despite the ninth Christian commandment, it's clear that Sean is quite happy with a pretty loose definition of the word truth. He co-authored a book on intelligent design with William Dembski, describing ID as a "scientific endeavor" that is "revolutionizing science", and he has a whole bunch of moronic essays online here. Let's start with his article "Is the Chimp-Mauling Darwin's Fault?":

This week we received the sobering news that a 55-year old woman was nearly killed by a 200 pound chimp. [...] How is it that we live in a culture where people think it's safe to have a chimpanzee as a pet? [...] In fact, there is one culprit for the idea that human beings and chimps are really not that different and should be treated that way: Darwinism. [...] If humans and chimps are really not that different, then why not expect chimps to act civilly?

You only have to walk through a city centre on a Friday night (or watch Cops) to understand that it's not just chimps that are wild, dangerous animals, but people too. Darwin's ideas can provide explanations for this behaviour, while the Genesis account (Eve robbed a piece of fruit, so nobody's perfect) is at best... unsatisfactory. The bible's notion that we are made in the image of God also poses further questions, like why would God need toenails? Do they grow? Does he have to cut them? And does God look anything like this:

Elsewhere, Sean gets confused between HIV (a virus) and AIDS (a disease):
Probably no challenge is raised more frequently than the seemingly "evil designs" in nature, such as the AIDS virus or the Great White Shark.

...and comes up with the worst definition of evil I've ever heard:

Simply put, evil is when things are not as they are supposed to be or are they way they are not supposed to be.

It does annoy me when my wife leaves too many pairs of shoes in the hallway instead of putting them in the closet where they belong, but I wouldn't say she was evil. That's harsh.

Next, Sean demostrates his intimate knowledge of particle physics:

If protons were 0.2 percent more massive than they actually are, they would be unstable and would decay into simpler protons.

Simpler protons? I sometimes feel a pang of jealousy that creationists can spew out this kind of bullshit like a fountain and be safe in the knowledge that their target audience doesn't know the first thing about science, and likely doesn't even care, whereas scientists like me have to constantly strive for accuracy and clarity when communicating with our peers, for fear of looking like a dumbass.

Lastly, Sean criticises Obama's views on creationism:

Obama directly contradicts himself. In one instance, Obama says that religion is merely an act of "faith." Yet at the end of his statement he says that opposition to evolution does not hold up to scientific inquiry.

No contradiction so far.
Which is it? Is evolutionary-opposition merely a private matter of faith, or is it based upon empirical claims about the world? If such opposition is merely based upon faith, then Obama (and other secularists) cannot claim that such views have been disproved by science.

Why not? There are plenty of religious beliefs that are entirely based on faith and that have been disproved by science.
Obama (and secularists) can't have it both ways. Either opposition to evolution is scientific or not. If it is scientific, then it may have a claim on the scientific curriculum. If it's not scientific, then they need to stop making the claim that it doesn't "hold up to scientific inquiry."

Sean seems to think that only scientific principles can be scientifically tested. What utter crap. Any crazy idiot can invent some half-baked idea right off the top of his head with no evidence to support it. Here's a good example, recently discussed on Pharyngula. Some wacko comes up with a theory about biological development based on deformation of donut-shaped balloons, writes a book about it, then gets upset when a real biologist points out that the theory is contradicted by even the most basic observations.

This brings us back to the root of the problem. There are many people out there, like Sean McDowell, who have already made up their minds based on blind faith and simply aren't interested in the evidence.


Anonymous said...

I like the picture of Sean, he looks like a genuine douche bag. I also like the picture of god. That's hot.

Sean Horton said...

can you list some examples of where science has proved Biblical principles wrong?

I believe what Sean is saying in regards to Obama is that: Obama says religion is an act of faith (something non-scientific), but at the same time is saying religion cant hold up to scientific inquiry.
-How can something Obama says is non-scientific hold up to scientific inquiry?

Also, im interested in hearing some of the evidence people like Sean McDowell and myself arent interested in. I would love to hear what evidence and hard facts disprove the Bible.

Christine said...

Actually, you absolutely can say the "AIDS virus" in reference to HIV. I've seen/heard lots of people do this and I see it as HIV (i.e. the Human Immunodeficiency Virus) = the virus that causes AIDS = "the AIDS virus." Is it a sloppy use of words that can be misinterpreted? Sure, but it's a term that is commonly used. However, if Sean McDowell actually thinks AIDS is the name of the virus, not the disease caused by HIV, well, then there's a problem.

As for the rest of this blog, kudos for all your hard work (just stumbled across this today). The title might be a little incendiary, but creationism is a huge pet peeve of mine and I'm always amazed that some people don't accept evolution. I live in Sweden, where belief in creationism is rare, and I was probably sixteen before I realized there even were people who didn't "believe" in what I assumed was a widely accepted and perfectly viable scientific truth.

I have a Master's degree in biotechnology and have worked as a researcher in the fields of biochemistry and genetics. For me, evolutionary theory was proven every single day in the lab.

Anyone is free to not accept evolution (yes, I use the word "accept" rather than "believe" because it's not a tenet of faith, but one of the most solid and well-researched scientific theories known to man). However, I find it rather irksome that so many people, particularly in the United States, go around thinking that there's a "controversy" regarding evolution. There is no controversy among scientists, there is only controversy between established science and a group of people who generally don't understand evolutionary theory, but have decided that the idea is unpalatable and somehow evil.

Where I live, all the mainstream churches accept evolution. I'm an agnostic myself, but my best friend is a Christian and a researcher with a Ph D in molecular genetics. She naturally accepts evolution and has no problem reconciling her faith with an acceptance of science.

Anyway, sorry for the rather off-topic comment, but I just discovered this blog today and wanted to throw my two cents in.

Anonymous said...

This blog is loosely put together. Of course nothing will make sense if you just take little snippets of what he says and put it all together to make it sound stupid. Anyone can do that! And when the bible quotes, "made in the image of god", it's obviously not talking about phisically. It is a spiritual metaphor. No one knows what God looks like, so of course it is intended that it is spiritual. You can keep assuming things from the bible, but you will never understand it until you look at things from a christians point of view. I challenge you to prove the bible wrong. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

You are an idiot!

Anonymous said...

You are an idiot!

northierthanthou said...

Would rather see an extended take-down of some specific example than a shot-gun blast at all these comments, but no, the man does not impress.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see you prove it right, first.