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Jul 03 2008

Poor babies! They just can’t win…

While Chris Comer is busy taking on the creos in court, back here on the intarweebs, some dippy YEC website with the delightful name of RememberThyCreator.com made the silly mistake of posting an open poll asking if creationism should be taught alongside evolution in public schools. The sheep were toeing the party line pretty reliably, if in very small numbers, until the day the poll came to the attention of the ever-playful PZ. RTC’s webmasters must have noticed the drastic spike in their usual traffic due to the Pharyngula Effect. And once they saw that the poll results were rather heavily skewed towards “No” (8,209 to 148, exactly), they decided to take it down. (Though the results are still up.) Awwww. And what’s this I usually hear about evilushunists “expelling” anyone who challenges their “dogma”?

13 comments

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  1. 1
    RedFerret

    Aww, poor creationists. I wonder when they’ll take the results down as well.TRF

  2. 2
    Edward

    Oh Great Martin,So in order to skew the results of the poll, a bunch of atheists gang up on the site to make it look like they are the majority opinion. Joke.Evolution isn’t even possible without Divine direction. It’s not evolution anyway that’s the problem: it’s the driving force behind it. If God choses to evolve creatures over time, great. But the idea that random chance will produce the events of natural selection do evolve species in anything less than like a trillion years is ridiculous. And I don’t care how complete the fossil record is, it doesn’t explain how evolution works. What chance creates probibility destroys.

  3. 3
    Martin

    Well, Ed, not much to say except that you’re a typical creationist: i.e., scientifically illiterate and comprehensively ignorant.Here’s a free tip: there are these people called “biologists,” who actually have advanced degrees in this stuff, and make the study of it their life’s work. Which means they know a lot more about things like evolution’s driving mechanisms than you do. And if actual effort is to be figured into it, they certainly have a great deal more passion for learning about the world we live in than you do.Since you demonstrate very clearly you haven’t done enough study into the field to have an authoritative opinion, then whatever you have to say on the subject with the pretense that you possess any level of expertise at all just makes you look foolish. Case in point: natural selection is not based on random chance. The ignorance reflected whenever creationists spout the words “random chance” is equivalent to their saying 2 + 2 = 8723. So, free tip #2: learn the facts before shooting your mouth off, and people will be less likely to ridicule you.Only three things are necessary for evolution to occur: reproduction, heritable variation, and selection. No magic invisible sky fairy need apply.As for the poll: hey, it was a funny prank simply to demonstrate that YEC’s are so dumb they can’t even figure out that online polls can be spiked. That’s all. Majority opinions? Well, you could say that among the educated, evolution is the majority opinion, while among the medieval-minded, the terminally backward, or just the tragically misinformed, it would be creationism. Hmm, which group would I rather hang out with?

  4. 4
    Phewd

    It’s amazing to me how armchair biolgists (read: theists) can make such authoratative statements about evolution without any kind of actual biological background, and deem it factual. However, turn the tables (atheists making authoratative statements about theology), and suddenly the double standard rears it’s ugly head. Blech!

  5. 5
    Martin

    I know, phewd. I’ve blogged about this behavioral phenomenon before.

  6. 6
    tracieh

    >…it doesn’t explain how evolution worksJust to point out, we know how evolution works. We _use_ it to produce our domestic livestock and pets. People invovled in “breeding” (evolution through unnatural selection, that is man-made selections) have known how evolution works for thousands of years. I’m fairly sure they picked up the idea the same way Darwin did–by seeing it all around them in nature.

  7. 7
    NAL

    Is “artificial selection” a better description than “unnatural selection?”

  8. 8
    PhillyChief

    I love the list of conference speakers. Every science/historical conference needs a tenor. LOL!Btw, clicking through these people’s bios is fun. Take Swanson, “serving as student body president of a large west coast university” – who doesn’t list the school they attended, let alone had such an accomplishment at? Weird. Dave Nutting, “former evolutionist who “evolved” into a creationist” (yuk yuk, those funny guys) has advanced degrees in mathematics and geology. Conspicuously absent – biology. Lots of fun. I wonder what goodies might be in that free gift pack attendees get.

  9. 9
    Edward

    Hey Martin,You said:Well, Ed, not much to say except that you’re a typical creationist: i.e., scientifically illiterate and comprehensively ignorant.Edward: Oh yeah? So, tell me Martin, how did life begin? You can duplicate it, right? Or someone can, right?Martin: Here’s a free tip: there are these people called “biologists,” who actually have advanced degrees in this stuff,Edward: But not you. Right, not you? You read the text books, that have editors and collaborators and a bunch of people deciding what will be and won’t be accepted in order to sell text books in the 21st Century, so you know what? What do you really know? You have faith. And you assume I haven’t read any of those same text books even though I had two semesters of Biology in HS. Two semesters in my B.Sc., A&P 1 and 2, in college Microbiology in college (in which I earned an A), Nursing school with pathophysiology and pharmocology, and so far, more than four years of clinical experience in the ICU. Not to mention all the self education I do in order to combat atheism in my ministry at Christian Cross Talk,and what did you say, how was it you referred to me sir: scientifically illiterate and comprehensively ignorant.Dogma. That’s all you have in this war. Dogma. You think you have the answers because that fool at pharyngula told you to believe something, so you did. You need to wake up.Martin: and make the study of it their life’s work. Which means they know a lot more about things like evolution’s driving mechanisms than you do. And if actual effort is to be figured into it, they certainly have a great deal more passion for learning about the world we live in than you do.Edward: You can have all the passion you want to search for something; it doesn’t do you any good to look in the wrong place.Martin: Since you demonstrate very clearly you haven’t done enough study into the field to have an authoritative opinion, then whatever you have to say on the subject with the pretense that you possess any level of expertise at all just makes you look foolish.Edward: I’m curious, Martin: I used to be an education counselor, before I was an R.N. and I know how to verify this sort of thing, what is your degree and where did you earn it? Mine is a Liberal Arts degree from Regents College in NY, most of the classes of which I took through BYU. My nursing degree is from a very tough nursing school in a state I’m not willing to disclose. So, how ’bout you?Look, personally I don’t care whether you have a degree or whether you’ve gone one better and self-educated, but I’m just trying to determine if you hold any facts that weren’t fed to you.Don’t bother responding if you have it on your profile. I’ll check that after I post this.Martin: Case in point: natural selection is not based on random chance. Edward: Oh really? Then you believei in the Divine direction of evolution? But I’m being rude…please continue:Martin: The ignorance reflected whenever creationists spout the words “random chance” is equivalent to their saying 2 + 2 = 8723. So, free tip #2: learn the facts before shooting your mouth off, and people will be less likely to ridicule you.Edward: I see. You don’t really know anything. You just know how to fight in the battle of words. I didn’t think I had a real contender on my hands, but I had to test it out for the review…you understand.Martin: Only three things are necessary for evolution to occur: reproduction, heritable variation, and selection. No magic invisible sky fairy need apply.Edward: So, how did we evolve into the abilty to reproduce (or form a cell for that matter), why do we mutate from generation to generation, and what causes that magical word you use, “selection.” Selection impliese consciousness.Martin: As for the poll: hey, it was a funny prank simply to demonstrate that YEC’s are so dumb they can’t even figure out that online polls can be spiked. That’s all.Edward: So, atheists that you support are also bullies. I have no problem with bullies. I eat them all.Martin: Majority opinions? Well, you could say that among the educated, evolution is the majority opinion, while among the medieval-minded, the terminally backward, or just the tragically misinformed, it would be creationism. Hmm, which group would I rather hang out with?Edward: Matin…Martin! What group do you want to die with. Because when you die as an atheist, you can’t change. A sould doesn’t change unless it’s in a temporal environment, and in the…ahem…hereafer, it’s all one present moment.cough…Pascal’s Wager…cough…OK, I’m keyed up now. I have to listen to Michael and Janet sing “Scream.”You will excuse me?

  10. 10
    Luis

    “But the idea that random chance will produce the events of natural selection do evolve species in anything less than like a trillion years is ridiculous.”Edward, evolution by natural selection isn’t synonymous with “random chance”. If it were, Darwin’s insight would have no utility whatsoever. It would provide no explanatory power. Saying that it is the same as random chance would be equivalent to invoking miracles, which is ironically what YOU’RE calling for. We’re not. Natural selection is inherently NON-random, because the alleles that tend to get replicated more readily (and sometimes come to fixation) are those that have phenotypic consequences that are conducive to the greater survival and reproduction of their carriers. So the alleles that are selected represent a NON-RANDOM SAMPLE of the alleles that are in the gene pool; if they were a random sample, we wouldn’t even call it natural selection in the first place. Depending on the particular environment, different alleles can be selected (what’s favoured in one environment will not be favoured in another, because the constraints and demands of those environments will favour different “solutions”, mean that different mutations will be favoured). This question about random chance has been so thoroughly and comprehensively debunked it’s become something of a running joke among atheists. Cumulative selection – as elucidated in Richard Dawkins’ book “The Blind Watchmaker” (which I highly recommend), among many other fine books about evolution – is the very antithesis of random chance. It provides a mechanism by which complexity can be gradually built up, rather than it appearing in massive leaps and jumps, which is actually the religious “alternative”. “Edward: Oh yeah? So, tell me Martin, how did life begin? You can duplicate it, right? Or someone can, right?”Creationists often make the mistake of falsely equivocating life’s origin with all of subsequent evolution, as though they were one and the same thing. It is thought that, if the origin of life is not amendable to a scientific description involving some naturalistic process, then “therefore” all of evolution is thereby debunked. This is false. While there are evolutionary hypotheses about the origin of life (that is, hypotheses that include things like self-replicating systems that underwent a process of natural selection before the advent of “living things”, however we choose to define them), the truth of life’s subsequent evolution from that origin does not cling upon the origin itself being naturalistic (though we have no reason to suppose that it wasn’t). Even if we discovered that life had been originally planted on Earth by an intelligence (say, God), that would not falsify subsequent evolution, because the evidence for that evolution would still be too strong. We would still have the fossil record, comparative morphology, embryology, developmental biology, and genetics all converging onto the same conclusion: that evolution is true. At most, we would say that a different process had been at work at the beginning, and that naturalistic evolution took over from there. To be sure, the origin of life is one of the most difficult questions in all of science, but we’re making progress, and we have some idea of the types of processes it must have involved. And, of course, just because science can’t presently answer something doesn’t mean that religion is any better qualified to do so. Currently, no one has been able to create life in the laboratory, but that may well be about to change. J. Craig Venter, the famous geneticist and biotech entrepreneur, has directed his company to achieve this very objective, and there is every chance that they will succeed. Other teams in other countries are trying to do the same. “Martin: Case in point: natural selection is not based on random chance.Edward: Oh really? Then you believei in the Divine direction of evolution? But I’m being rude…please continue:It’s got absolutely nothing to do with the divine. As I said, if it did, its utility would be zero. Natural selection is a purely naturalistic process that involves no intentionality on the part of a divine entity. All it requires is that certain environmental parameters be in place, and it will take place as an automatic consequence of those parameters. This has nothing to do with the “dogma” you accused Martin of harbouring; natural selection has been mathematically modelled, and its predictions are used in practical applications like disease control and farming. Indeed, in your studies of microbiology, it should have been abundantly clear that natural selection takes place in pathogens without any “divine” guidance of any sort. “Edward: So, how did we evolve into the abilty to reproduce (or form a cell for that matter), why do we mutate from generation to generation, and what causes that magical word you use, “selection.” Selection impliese consciousness.”No it doesn’t, or at least, it doesn’t have to. To a first approximation, it only implies differential reproduction. Some types of selection involve consciousness, like when we breed animals or plants according to our whim, but the mechanism is essentially the same as for natural selection: the differential reproduction of some genotypes relative to others according to some criterion, such that over time the gene pool will change its average constitution at some locus. In artificial breeding, that criterion is the degree to which some animal or plant more closely resembles what we want to achieve (higher milk yield, or more extravagant plumage); in nature, that criterion is the degree to which an animal or plant can cope in that environment relative to its contemporaries given the conditions that prevail there. There’s nothing fundamentally mysterious at all about this. In fact, it’s perfectly simple.

  11. 11
    Martin

    Even if we discovered that life had been originally planted on Earth by an intelligence (say, God), that would not falsify subsequent evolution, because the evidence for that evolution would still be too strong.The thing about creos is that they always, no matter how blustery their rhetoric, always end up falling back on the God of the Gaps. Anywhere you answer a question with “I don’t know” is taken as support for their god of choice. Have a gap in your scientific knowledge? Simple, plug God into that pesky gap and presto! Instant “answer,” without the actual study.What is striking about these folks is how deeply incurious they are about learning how the world works. They see knowledge as something that’s either an unwelcome interference in their beliefs, or something that’s useful only if it appears to reinforce their beliefs. The actual act of learning, struggling with answers, separating successes from failures, trial and error, all of that which makes science such a fulfilling and exasperating and rewarding process…is something they mock. Perhaps that’s because religion has robbed them of the ability to benefit from the process. How much easier it is simply to plant your ignorance on an altar and call it “God.”

  12. 12
    Martin

    This will be Edward’s final trollage here. But just to send him off with a final bitchslap…Oh yeah? So, tell me Martin, how did life begin? You can duplicate it, right? Or someone can, right?We don’t yet know how life began, which, if you had actually studied the science, you would know. But evolution isn’t a theory about how life began.(Loads of boasting about his CV’s clipped.) Not to mention all the self education I do in order to combat atheism in my ministry at Christian Cross Talk, and what did you say, how was it you referred to me sir: scientifically illiterate and comprehensively ignorant.Yes, well, if you did take all those courses, and got A’s, it’s strange that everything you said and continue to say sounds completely scientifically illiterate and comprehensively ignorant. You should know better than to recycle every lame creo canard in the book, which makes your arrogant ignorance even more offensive than it already is.If all you want to do is engage in a dick-wagging contest over who took what courses in college and who got what degrees (which would be entirely in keeping with the level of adolescent behavior you’ve been exhibiting since you’ve started trolling here), I must say, it doesn’t matter, since, despite all these science classes you claim to have taken you don’t seem to have actually learned any science, and you talk no differently than every other uneducated creo who’s schlepped by here thinking he’s ready to play with the big boys. What good did all of this education, if indeed you actually had it, do you? Doesn’t seem like much. If you really got A’s in microbiology, you could answer your own questions about what science does and does not know about life’s beginnings. And you wouldn’t make stupid statements about the mechanisms of evolution being impossible without an invisible magic sky fairy.You can have all the passion you want to search for something; it doesn’t do you any good to look in the wrong place.Good advice. Take it yourself and it may get you somewhere someday. Free hint #3: Ancient Bronze Age myths aren’t necessarily a good source for learning modern scientific facts.Oh look. More ignorant dreck you wouldn’t actually spout with a straight face if indeed you had several years of science education under your belt…So, how did we evolve into the abilty to reproduce (or form a cell for that matter), why do we mutate from generation to generation, and what causes that magical word you use, “selection.” Selection impliese consciousness.No, it’s the result of the impact the environment has upon the development of species in that environment, and which species adapt beneficial changes and survive, as opposed to those that fail to adapt and then die. If God is guiding the process, then the Christian has to explain why God is intentionally allowing some species to go extinct and other thrive, and why he bothered creating tht ones who are going extinct in the first place.You see, shoehorning gods into natural processes simply muddies the waters, and adds only absurdity and confusion. Not answers. Not understanding.Back to school, Ed.cough…Pascal’s Wager…cough…Uh…seriously? You’re actually using that argument? For real? You’re actually using Pascal’s Wager over at that blog of yours!?! And you think that’s something to “combat atheism” with!?! LO-frickin-L! Dude, seriously, you aren’t even an amateur yet. Sigh. So long, Ed. Back to the end of the line.

  13. 13
    RedFerret

    Just a thought. I too have a university degree in a similar field to nursing, and also took cell biology, anatomy and physiology, neuroanatomy, etc. Whilst interesting, and certainly useful for my chosen profession, this does not give me a degree in biology, and certainly at the level required for nursing and equivalent professions, did not go into any specififc details about evolution or abiogenesis. Personal reading outside of my course has helped, but this does not make me an expert in these fields. Neither does MY experince in working on an ICU. It just doesn’t come into it. SO WHY BRING UP A NURSING DEGREE. It has no relevance to the context of this discussion.Now I admit, my degree is from the UK, but as health professionals tend to be able to apply to work in the US from the UK, the requirments from our degrees would have to be similar, don’t you think?TRF

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