We get email: another creationist punching bag


So today, there’s a fellow who’s shown up in our inboxes claiming, at different times, to be a “Christian Psychiatrist” (both words capitalized), a neuroscientist, and a physician, though his nick is “risky-kid,” which doesn’t sound like any doctor I want to see. I call bullshit. But maybe the guy got his degrees from Patriot University and that’s how they do things. Anyway, he caught me at the right time, and so if you wish to amuse yourself reading my beatdown, here ’tis. I’m in italics.


Caveat: you are likely to find the tone of this response extremely condescending and rude. This isn’t an apology, merely a heads-up. I’m afraid public displays of smug ignorance bring out the worst in me. It’s not a thing I feel I need to work on.

From:
Subject: RE: I am a thiest I come in peace
To: tv@atheist-community.org
Date: Thursday, May 13, 2010, 4:37 PM

My approach it an integrative evidence based approach, in which scripture and nature rightly understood always harmonize. If there are apparent contradictions I look for errors in both my understanding of scripture and my understanding of nature. I have found errors in both places over time.

What is your basis for considering scripture valid as evidence of anything in the first place?

I find Darwinian evolution held together only by an insistence on forcing evidence to be interpreted in ways that are favorable to that theory rather than actually letting the evidence speak for itself.

Good for you, but that only shows you fail to understand the evidence for evolution and how it shores up the theory.

The list of scientific evidence which refutes Darwinian evolution is enormous, but this email isn’t a place for me to recite all of such evidence.

Nope. Sorry. You don’t get to show up here and spout the same tired creationist canards without backing them up. And yes, we’re aware that there are loads of creationist websites out there making arguments against evolution that sound very scholarly and scientific. But has any of their research actually been reproduced by other people without an agenda to push? Where are the peer-reviewed articles demonstrating that evolution by natural selection has been refuted? I mean in legitimate, recognized scientific journals, not those the creationists print up to circulate amongst themselves.

Those biased by years of evolutionary education however have failed to see how subjective their thinking has become and instead criticize any interpretation that deviates from the “accepted” norm as “blind” or “faith” based.

Perhaps the “accepted norm” is “accepted” because it’s what the evidence actually supports. Seriously, you started out with basic scientific illiteracy and now you’re projecting the attitudes of creationists onto scientists, and you’re not even trying not to be lame about it.

Sorry, but until you show you actually know a damn thing about evolutionary biology, I see no reason to take any of this drivel seriously. If you wish any credibility for your claim that you have “read widely in the scientific literature”, simply demonstrate that you’re right and that you have the expertise you claim to have. Here is your assignment:

1. Explain endogenous retroviruses using the evolutionary model.
2. Explain the creationist alternative.
3. Demonstrate precisely how the latter refutes the former, with citations.
Extra Credit: Submit your work to Nature and win a Nobel Prize.

But when one has already concluded that creation didn’t happen, and evolution did, then all the evidence is filtered through a bias which prevents real learning.

Yeah, again, you seem to have covered the whole subject of projection pretty well in your training to be a “Christian Psychiatrist”. Of course, it could never be the case that someone who has already concluded there’s an invisible magic man in the sky filters evidence through that preconception, and has “real learning” prevented thereby.

As a physician, and particularly a neuroscientist, I do find the common theory that the brain evolved over millions of years to be unscientific.

Then I’m going to take a wild guess and conclude that you’re either A) not a neuroscientist B) a lousy neuroscientist.

I have never seen one scientific experiment, reproducible, in which any species, by forces of nature and environment grew new lobes onto its brain. This is what is commonly taught in the neuro literature and I ask what evidence to support this – of course there is none.

I thought you were familiar with the scientific literature. It took me precisely 2 seconds to Google this.

But tell me, where are the reproducible experiments that have shown Godidit? I mean, clearly, the scientific literature must be overflowing with them. Or is it that the Big Science Conspiracy has struck again, I wonder?

Really, only three things need to exist for evolution to occur, and they’re all things that we know exist: Sexual reproduction, heritable variation, and selection pressure. Perhaps you have some research that shows none of those things come into play in the process after all…?

Another equally resonable intepretation of the evidence is that a designer built and expanded His design to create variations on a theme. When we consider all the vehicles on the road from carts, to carriages, to bicycles, to autos, trucks etc. We can see various elements in common to all and order them from simple to complex, yet none would argue that these vehicles evolved on their own, all would rightly realize that designers included elements that are essential to the function of each (wheels) etc.

Yeah yeah yeah. And if you found a watch on the beach…

Honestly, there are 18-year-old biology freshmen who could explain selection to you. You’re making the basic creationist fallacy of comparing artifacts to natural organisms. The development from simplicity to complexity in evolutionary science really is Biology 101 stuff, and very widely understood by those, unlike you, actually versed in the field. Seriously, your remedial education begins here.

If that doesn’t interest you, then demonstrate, please, that the concept of a designer is scientifically falsifiable. What would a non-designed lifeform look like?

Therefore, I do not believe science has provided reasonable evidence to conclude a naturalistic explanation, and rather I find the weight of evidence for a designer

Huh? Then where is that evidence? All you’ve shown us is what you consider “reasonable interpretations” of evidence you haven’t even convinced us you understand at a baseline level. (Indeed you’ve shown pretty unambiguously that you don’t.) And all you backed that up with is whining about how you think scientists are all biased and subjective for not seeing your god in everything. You also seem to think that “integrating” modern scientific evidence with the writings of a Bronze Age holy book produced by an ignorant, pre-scientific, and primitive culture that barely even had indoor plumbing to be a valid approach to researching this vast and complex field. Which, frankly, makes about as much sense as figuring out how to get a girlfriend by integrating your actual interactions with women with the experiences of Archie and Peter Parker in comic books. In other words, you have something of a credibility deficit here.

and in fact find two antagonistic principles at play throughout the entire earth ecosystem – what I term the law of love, which is the principle of life, and the survival of the fittest principle (fear and selfishness) which is an infection which damages and brings death. Viruses, as I see it are examples of the infection to creation which damages and destroys, their very function is merely self replication and take without giving, and results in destroying the host and
itself in the end. This is exactly what sin is and does, selfishness, taking, destorying and dying.

Well I guess I have gone on long enough.

Long enough for me to conclude you are either not being truthful about being an actual neuroscientist widely read in the literature, or that academic standards for people in your profession have crashed through the floor. Perhaps you got your degree from Patriot University?

Comments

  1. says

    Yeah, I find it hard to believe this guy's a neuroscientist when he screws up his first sentence with the third word. Impossible, in fact. I'm gonna need some peer-reviewed evidence that this guy has a brain, much less studies them. The "vehicles on the road" example doesn't help his case that much — designer or no, we can still trace a clear progression from simple to complex forms. Even ignoring the common fallacy of comparing artifacts which can't reproduce, to organisms which can, at best he has made a case for theistic evolution, not special creation. Which undermines his attempt to claim that evolution can't account for any of what we see, and also calls into question why his big invisible wizard apparently wouldn't have had the ability to use evolution as a method.

  2. Wired For Sound says

    This exchange began on a downhill slide, and just kept sliding. The first paragraph says it all:"My approach it an integrative evidence based approach, in which scripture and nature rightly understood always harmonize. If there are apparent contradictions I look for errors in both my understanding of scripture and my understanding of nature. I have found errors in both places over time."He's found errors in his interpretations — but never an error in Scripture. That can never be in error. Congratulations, you have passed the Henry Morris Doctrinal Test 101, namely:Whenever reality appears to diverge from Scripture, always question reality.

  3. says

    I find reading your posts to be therapeutic because you do so well to match the tone of your replies with the earnestness of your interlocutors'.And, since you've bested this chap of such degree, shouldn't his academic honours be conferred on you? You know, like in Highlander. That would make you a neuroscientist, a Christian Psychiatrist, and I believe, a projectionist?-cheers

  4. Martin says

    The creationist penchant for arrogant hypocrisy is really on its ugliest display here. This clod needs to have it drilled into him that he doesn't get to attack scientists for supposedly "filtering" evidence through a set of biases that prevent "real learning," when in the very first fucking sentence of his email, he boasts of practicing a bogus "integrative evidence based approach" that involves forcing reality to mesh with ancient religious scriptures he merely assumes are sufficiently factual to qualify as evidence in the first place, a clear and shameless bias that he flatters himself is simply "right understanding" of both reality and scripture.As someone wise once said, you're entitled to your own opinions in life, but not your own facts.

  5. says

    THANK YOU, Martin, for posting this.I have to say this was one of the most annoying letters I've ever seen submitted to our list. And just to note that as easy going as I try to be with theists, I couldn't reply to this because it was such an obvious bald-faced lie from the author I couldn't see a point to addressing his claims beyond stating, "You, sir, are a liar."He's not a neuroscientist. He's not a psychiatrist (in his first e-mail to us he claimed love is divinely inspired…what psychiatrist, tasked with prescribing mood altering drugs that alter emotions via altering brain chemistry, doesn't understand HOW those drugs actually work?), and I can't take him seriously.I do think his apologetics are sincerely intended, but he's dishonest and/or deluded FAR beyond his religious beliefs. If he really does go around pronouncing himself to be things like a psychiatrist/neuroscientist to people–the guy's got issues…?

  6. says

    "My approach it an integrative evidence based approach, in which scripture and nature rightly understood always harmonize. If there are apparent contradictions I look for errors in both my understanding of scripture and my understanding of nature. I have found errors in both places over time."Wow. This one really is a masterpiece.His "approach" is that scripture accords with nature. Really? His epistemology apparently is something like "I am right. And I know it. Now I just have to find out why and how and for what reasons I am right."Is there anything you can not prove with this approach?My position is that orange juice cures cancer. If there are apparent contradictions I look for errors in both my understanding of cancer and my understanding of orange juice. I have found errors in both places over time. But of course I would never ever question that orange juice can in fact cure cancer.

  7. Admin says

    "The list of scientific evidence which refutes Darwinian evolution is enormous, but this email isn't a place for me to recite all of such evidence."He forgot to add, "So, I'm not even gonna mention a single one. Just take my word for it."

  8. says

    Question for you ACA folks. When you respond to these sorts of e-mails and ask them questions to clarify or correct their claims/evidence/assertions, how often do they actually care to give you a reasonable response? I'm referring specifically to points such as these:What is your basis for considering scripture valid as evidence of anything in the first place?Where are the peer-reviewed articles demonstrating that evolution by natural selection has been refuted?1. Explain endogenous retroviruses using the evolutionary model.2. Explain the creationist alternative.3. Demonstrate precisely how the latter refutes the former, with citations.Extra Credit: Submit your work to Nature and win a Nobel Prize.My guess would be that the response type breakdown is something like the following:1) (80%) Ignore/dodge the point entirely2) (15%) Give some short, weak ass answer to support their position and/or dismiss the point as illegitimate3) (3%) Actually give a well reasoned and researched response4) (2%) Respond with an honest "I don't know"

  9. says

    I just wanted to point out a potential error: Really, only three things need to exist for evolution to occur, and they're all things that we know exist: Sexual reproduction, heritable variation, and selection pressure.Is sexual reproduction required? I thought that it only has to be reproduction. Can't asexual organisms evolve?

  10. says

    My position is that orange juice cures cancer. If there are apparent contradictions I look for errors in both my understanding of cancer and my understanding of orange juice. I have found errors in both places over time. But of course I would never ever question that orange juice can in fact cure cancer.Suzanne Sommers? Is that you?

  11. says

    If this guy was a True Christian ™ all he had to say was, "I believe in Intelligent Design, because I love Intelligent Design." Martin would have had no case.Natch!

  12. says

    @elintirYeah, I was wondering about that statement. It isn't THAT necessary. Sexual reproduction tends to speed up the process greatly by providing more variations of offspring when random segments of the population copulate.

  13. says

    "You also seem to think that "integrating" modern scientific evidence with the writings of a Bronze Age holy book produced by an ignorant, pre-scientific, and primitive culture that barely even had indoor plumbing to be a valid approach to researching this vast and complex field."Love that one.

  14. Martin says

    elentir, JT: I suppose I could have simply said "reproduction" to be pedantically accurate. There has been a lot of debate among researchers about whether asexual or sexual reproduction is a better evolutionary strategy, with most research showing that while asexual is more efficient, sexual reproduction allows a species to develop greater genetic resistance to disease. Here's some cool reading about the kind of actual science creationists just aren't doing.

  15. says

    @ MartinEven non-living things like Viruses "evolve". The only requirement is Replication with the chance of imperfection.

  16. says

    So @ the end he switches gears from his lack of any scientific understanding on full display to just preaching. That last part gave me a bad flashback to Ben Stein's interview on the 700 Club: "Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people".

  17. says

    I really don't see why he is claiming to be a neuroscientist, since he clearly has no high regards for science anyway. It doesn't make any sense. It does make sense it doesn't make any sense. This guy is a freaking idiot. You did your job Martin, I'm laughing :-D

  18. says

    I think the automobile analogy may have been a reference to the way genetic similarities between species are often dismissed as "God uses interchangeable parts". But was anybody able to make sense of the "Laws of love/viruses exist to kill creation" paragraph?

  19. says

    "I think the automobile analogy may have been a reference to the way genetic similarities between species are often dismissed as "God uses interchangeable parts". "Which fails the second anyone needs a blood transfer.

  20. says

    @IngI always looked at it from a systems/software engineering perspective. The simplest, most elegant designs are usually those designed from the ground up to serve a single purpose.Systems that have evolved, or been adapted to serve purposes beyond the original design, often fail that test. They will have designs and work flows that only make sense if you start by explaining how the system used to work, and then explain how this new functionality was hacked onto the old.When you think about vestigial organs, the design of the human eye, the broken vitamin C gene, etc, the human body seems more like a series of hacks, than a system designed from scratch to work the way it does. "Reuse of code" is not an adequate explanation for design flaws made by a perfect being. But I think the blood type example is probably a better example to give to the average (or below average) person.

  21. says

    @ ThomasIn Human Evolution class, the analogy was of the tangled garden hose. You move the hose in the shortest path possible not caring about how it gets tangled or what it gets snagged on…when you have to move it you're not allowed to backtrack, you have to go around the mess you already made.

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