This is the kind of bilge guys like Don McLeroy and Ken Mercer would like to see taught in science classes here in Texas, and no mistake. One loses count of the scientifically illiterate creationist poltroons who have claimed to have disproved Darwin over the years, only to faceplant into a briar patch of epic fail. But that hasn’t daunted the intrepid folks at San Antonio’s Vision Forum Ministries, who have created a 12-episode radio series called Jonathan Park and the Journey Never Taken, spreading, one presumes, the usual McDonald’s menu of tepid, reheated anti-science lies. Let’s see how they do in their “disproofs”…
“While Darwinism’s impact remains far-reaching, its clutch on the culture is beginning to slip,” concluded [Vision Forum Ministries president Doug] Phillips. “Programs like Jonathan Park illustrate the growing number of people who reject the notion that the world came to be through random chance and chaos, recognizing instead that the creation speaks forth of a Creator.”
Annnnd…FAIL! Let’s count the errors, shall we? First, Darwin’s theory is not a theory regarding how the “world came to be,” and second, nowhere does any model of evolution supported by science make the claim that it is a process of “random chance and chaos”. So, wow, right there in an introductory web post, Phillips reveals his utter ignorance of the science he claims his stupid little program disproves. One can only imagine how bad the actual shows are.
Such a sad, dark little life of ignorance fundamentalism requires you to lead. I recently read Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle, and it has to be the ultimate in travel writing. Imagine if Darwin had had his own blog during the seminal travels of his life, and you’ll get an idea of what’s it’s like. And if it reveals one thing more clearly than anything else, it’s that Charles Darwin possessed a sense of wonder and sheer unbridled awe about the beauty and majesty of life and the world we live in immeasurably greater than any felt by the pitiful creationists at Vision Forum Ministries — or any other creationist institution dedicated to the desperate clinging to the skirts of Bronze Age mythology instead of the real wonders that science and knowledge reveal to us.
They’re gearing this crap towards children, in the hopes their natural wonder about the world and hunger for learning will be stifled before it has a chance to form. And all in the interests of maintaining ancient beliefs and the ministries that sell them. This is why we fight. Minds are at stake. Somewhere in the world is a student who will go on to cure AIDS, extend human life expectancy, and solve other ills that befall us, and that student will have to understand evolution. Creationists fear this, and want this destroyed at all costs. Religion doesn’t care what destruction it leaves in its wake, as long as it comes out on top in the end.
Addendum: It didn’t take long for Pat Roy, writer of the radio show in question, to turn up in the comments to defend his efforts. Game of Pat to show up and comment. I’m replying here as Blogger limits the character length of comments, and my rebuttal goes on at length.
Pat writes, after quoting some writing of Erasmus’ Darwin’s:
Notice how [Erasmus] mentions the formation of the earth from chaos. And we can show that Charles accepted most of his father’s [sic] ideas. Do these statements specifically address biological evolution? No. And that may be your point. However, I believe Mr. Phillip’s statements were referring to the theory of “evolution” as many do — from Big Bang to complex humans – which we see very clearly in Erasmus’ quote (and many others). So you are wrong on your post, many evolutionists do attempt to explain the formation of the world from chaos.
“Many” — at least among scientists and the scientifically literate — do not in fact conflate such cosmological theories as the Big Bang with biological evolution, and if your radio show says they do, it is lying. It is the case that scientists who accept evolution also tend to accept such theories as the Big Bang, but to say that they refer to every field of study regarding origins under the all-purpose umbrella of “evolution” is deceptive. It’s precisely the kind of little deception that creationists engage in as a matter of course; the idea being that many little deceptions add to a student’s mistrust of the reliability of science and the scientific method, until, crack, the proverbial camel’s back proverbially breaks.
Can you in fact name these “many evolutionists” who “attempt to explain the formation of the world from chaos”? (Apart from Chuck D.’s grandad, that is? Science has progressed on the question somewhat since his day, you understand.) Because, from the studying I’ve done, scientists explain the formation of the world as following from known laws of physics. That an accretion disc of dust and nebular materials condensed around a young hot star and formed our solar system using such tried-and-true methods as gravity, and electrostatic and centrifugal forces. Sure, prior to all this going on, the original solar nebula may have been a somewhat chaotic glob of matter. But we wouldn’t have gotten a solar system out of it had physics not taken a role. That’s not simple chaos, and no respectable scientist would describe it so.
So, I’m sorry, your response so far does not leave me with much confidence in your presenting accurate science to your young audience.
Next, Doug Phillips and a team from Vision Forum have just returned from an amazing trip to from the Galapagos. I read the men’s’ accounts on their own voyage to these islands. They too, were filled with the awe and diversity of the animals there. They were inspired by the wonder, beauty, and sense of wonder at the islands. As a matter of fact, the VF team marveled at the incredible design of each animal – appreciating the very ingenuity that went into each one — whereas Charles Darwin attributed the beauty to non-intelligent processes. To say Darwin could appreciate the beauty and purpose more than a creationist isn’t based on anything other than an emotional response!
Phillips and his team went to the Galapagos and returned with more awe of their God. Darwin found awe in nature, without needing any recourse to the supernatural. This is the distinction I meant. Darwin went to the Galapagos and found himself learning new things and formulating original ideas. Your boys went there pretending to be open-minded admirers of science, all the while simply looking to shore up beliefs they already held.
The “design” evident in the animals of the Galapagos, and the whole world, results from an understood process: that of evolution by natural selection, sometimes called descent with modification. That this process is not “intelligent,” not teleological, does not invalidate it. Indeed, there are many problems that begin to crop up in our understanding of biology, and of all the sciences, the minute one tries to shoehorn a magical, all-powerful God into the equation. One is now obliged to explain how and why this God has created things the way he did. One is obliged to reconcile very clear instances of bad “design” — in human beings, for instance, our spines curve in such a way as to risk very bad back problems late in life, our knees bend the wrong way for maximal locomotion, and a woman’s birth canal is not large enough to admit a baby’s head without severe agony and possibly life-threatening consequences for the mother — on the part of this supposedly all-knowing and all-powerful creator. Tellingly, the only way creationists and religionists can reconcile these problems is through recourse to myths that, by their very nature, cannot be examined or confirmed: women’s birth pains are explained as a consequnce of Eve’s “fall,” for instance.
To put it
politely, this isn’t science. Nor is wandering around the Galapagos going, “Wow, look at that tortoise, isn’t God a great designer!”
As far as stifling children… I can say that I have had email after email from children (for many years) that have gotten excited about science and discovering the world around them as a direct result of the production. As a matter of fact, we end each episode with the tag-line, “This is our Father’s world. God created it. We can explore it. Now live the adventure.” Does that sound like we’re “stifling” children, or encouraging them to explore?
It sounds like you’re stifling them without understanding how you’re doing it. Real science, real learning, is done by withholding conclusions about your findings until you’ve seen where the evidence leads. Based on your comments here, it sounds like your entire presentation in these shows follows the creationist playbook: Present kids with nature; offer the false choice between “unintelligent, chaotic processes” and “intelligent design”; cast the choice in terms of a “Duh!” moment (after all, who could believe that all this amazing design in nature could possibly be the result of random chance?!!?1!); and voila — teh God!
Do you truly, accurately present the evidence for evolution in your series? Do you allow pro-evolution scientists who also happen to be Christians — Kenneth Miller, Francisco Alaya, among others — to make guest appearances on the show to explain what the evidence actually tells us? I don’t for an instant believe you do. And that’s not an emotional response. It’s rooted in a long history of dealing with creationists and their dishonesty. What actual, scientifically falsifiable evidence do you present to support the claims “This is our Father’s world. God created it” (in the way science education provides falsifiable evidence for evolution, I mean)? Or are you just telling kids this? If the latter, then, once more with feeling: That isn’t science, Pat, it’s simply religion looking for intellectual cred by donning a lab coat.
I don’t doubt you’ve gotten praiseworthy emails from kids, Pat. But that doesn’t confirm the content of what you teach is true, only that kids with no prior knowledge of science and no way to verify or disconfirm what you taught them enjoyed the experience. I will admit, in fairness, that you may inadvertently have done some of these kids some good. Some of them may well have gone on to study science as they got further along in their educations. And then they’d have discovered that the actual evidence doesn’t quite support what you taught them. Then, some of them may thank you again — if for a very different reason.
Here is the biggest problem with your statement: most of the founding fathers of science were creationists. So to say that creation stifles scientific discovery is just untrue — as proven by history.
Well of course, Pat! Science is about discovery, and developing new theories to supplant old ones when the evidence calls for it. Are you really trying to offer me “Scientists long before Darwin believed in creation” as if it were an argument that validated creation? I mean, you could just as easily say that, because most early doctors were Galenists who believed in the four “humors,” this in no way stifles medical discovery.
Of course early scientists were creationists, because, until Darwin, no one had established a theory of evolution with a solid body of evidence behind it. Early scientists can hardly be expected to have held an idea that did not yet exist, let alone have a strong, evidence-backed theory behind it.
When medicine began to be informed by such things as the germ theory of disease, archaic notions like the humors were discarded as no longer useful or factual. If any doctors today still held to Galenism and the humors, they wouldn’t be good doctors. By the same token, evolution has been confirmed by such a vast body of evidence, and continues to be confirmed by new discoveries all the time. To hang onto an old idea that denies evolution, despite the evidence, is not good science. Creationists who reject evolution in this day and age are like doctors who are still Galenists, holding onto an outmoded idea and bizarrely defending it by pointing out that this is how people long ago thought!
So, thanks for the friendly response. But I’m afraid I’ve found nothing in it to think your program is going to be any less rubbish than all the other creationist efforts I’ve encountered. And if you think my critique was a little on the harsh side, I’d advise you to strap on the Kevlar once actual biologists hear what you’re filling impressionable little minds with.