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Bryan Fischer and the dogmatic incantations

I’m getting too old for this. The idiots keep making the same arguments, over and over again, and they just get dumber with every iteration. Bryan Fischer makes me want to stick an icepick in my brain just to stop the stupidity coming out of his mouth.

His latest article is Defeating Darwin in four steps…and I read the title and instantly predicted what his four objections would be before I even looked at the first sentence — I’d apply for Randi’s million dollar challenge, except reading the mind of a droning cretin isn’t much of a challenge.

You really need to listen to Fischer’s awful radio show, just for the schlocky thrill of his sing-songy chant of “First Law, Second Law, Fossils, Genes”. It’s a high quality, potent emetic.

Here are his four magic arguments:

  1. First Law of Thermodynamics. This law (note: not a theory but a scientific law) teaches us that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed. In other words, an honest scientist will tell you that there is nothing in the observable universe that can explain either the origin of energy or matter. By logical extension, then, matter and energy had to come into being by some force outside the universe.

    What this means, then, is that science simply has no explanation for the most basic question that could possibly be asked: why is there something rather than nothing?

    Actually, I didn’t guess this one exactly right — I thought he’d say something about abiogenesis, that we don’t know how life started. Unfortunately, Fischer was even more idiotic than I thought he’d be: the origin of the universe is a physics problem, and is not a matter explained at all by biological evolution, so this is completely irrelevant.

    This is a common creationist claim, though, that the Big Bang violates the first law of thermodynamics. These gomers don’t understand thermodynamics so it’s silly for them to rely on it. Ask a physicist; the Big Bang doesn’t violate thermodynamics.

    This negative gravitational potential energy exactly cancels out the positive energy of the universe. As Stephen Hawking says in his book A Brief History of Time (quoted by Victor Stenger, Has Science Found God?, p. 148): “In the case of a universe that is approximately uniform in space, one can show that this negative gravitational energy exactly cancels the positive energy represented by the matter. So the total energy of the universe is zero.” In other words, it is not the case that something came out of nothing. It is that we have always had zero energy.

  2. Second Law of Thermodynamics. This law (note: not a theory but a law) teaches us that in every chemical or heat reaction, there is a loss of energy that never again is available for another heat reaction. This is why things break down if left to themselves, and why scientists tell us that the universe is headed toward a heat death.

    This law teaches us, then, that the universe is headed toward increasing randomness and decay.

    But what does the theory of evolution teach us? The exact opposite, that the universe is headed toward increasing complexity and order. You put up a scientific theory against my scientific law, I’m going to settle for the law every time, thank you very much.

    I knew this one was coming. Again, creationists don’t understand thermodynamics at all, and this is a beautiful example. Nothing violates the second law. Every gain in complexity in biology is matched by an even greater increase in entropy. I was once a tiny single cell, and I have increased in complexity and bulk over the years by chowing down on a mountain of high-energy food and turning it into a mountain of low-energy poop. It’s the same story with the bigger scale of evolution: it’s ultimately been driven by immense masses of hydrogen fusing in the heart of our star. Far more energy was burned by the sun than was harvested and used in all the history of life, so there is no net gain in the energy of the whole system.

  3. Fossils. Realize that the fossil record is the only tangible, physical evidence for the theory of evolution that exists. The fossil record is it. There is absolutely nothing else Darwinians have they can show you.

    As Yale University’s Carl Dunbar says, “Fossils provide the only historical, documentary evidence that life has evolved from simpler to more and more complex forms.”

    But if Darwin’s theory is correct, that increasingly complex life forms developed in tiny little incremental and transitional steps, then the fossil record should by littered with an enormous number of transitional fossils.

    Another predictable and stupid claim. We’ve got lots of transitional fossils. We look in the fossil record, and find entire ecosystems that no longer exist and have changed in radical ways. This is Fischer just sticking his fingers in his ears and shouting “la la la la”.

    The quote from Carl Dunbar is revealing. If you’re like me, you’re asking “who the heck is Carl Dunbar, and why should I care?” This one is a double-whammy against the creationists, though: Carl Dunbar was born in 1891, so once again they’re desperately scrambling to find some authority, any authority, to back up their claims. The other problem for the creationists, though, is the quote itself. Read it. Does this actually say there’s a problem with the fossil record? No, it does not. Dunbar was a well-known invertebrate paleontologist 50 years ago, who published many papers illustrating the pattern of transitions in the stratigraphic record.

    He’s probably be very surprised to hear that creationists now cite his work vaguely and with no comprehension as evidence against evolution. I guarantee you, too, that Fischer knows nothing about Dunbar’s work, and only cites him because he found other creationist sites that quote-mined him.

  4. Genes. The only mechanism — don’t miss this — the only mechanism evolutionists have to explain the development of increasingly complex life forms is genetic mutation. Mutations alter DNA, and these alterations can be passed on to descendants.

    The problem: naturally occurring genetic mutations are invariably harmful if not fatal to the organism. Rather than improve an organism’s capacity to survive, they invariably weaken it. That’s why the phrase we most often use to refer to genetic mutations is “birth defects.”

    Bryan Fischer is completely wrong here: he’s stating as a fact that mutations are invariably deleterious, and this is simply not true. Most are neutral. Some are advantageous, and all it takes is one counterexample to show that his absolutist statements are wrong. I’d say he’s lying, but I know what a lot of people would say: “he’s not literally lying, he’s just ignorant”. But this is something we need a better word for: he’s stating as a certainty a false ‘fact’, acting as an authority in a field he actually knows nothing about, and is intentionally promoting a counterfactual to advance an ideology. He’s a disinformation agent, sowing propaganda: it’s worse than lying.

That’s enough inanity. I’m done. I really hope, though, that someday someone comes up to me chanting “First Law, Second Law, Fossils, Genes” just like Bryan Fischer so I can kick their dumb ass.

(Also on Sb)

Comments

  1. Dhorvath, OM says

    Hoowow! The lack of understanding is strong in this one, we may need isolation to treat the infection.

  2. Tashi says

    great article..i want to see more videos of you debating people just like the one with Hamza and his side kick at the Athiest Convention. I thoroughly enjoy your site.

  3. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Bryan Fischer is completely wrong here: he’s stating as a fact that mutations are invariably deleterious, and this is simply not true. Most are neutral. Some are advantageous, and all it takes is one counterexample to show that his absolutist statements are wrong.

    Not to mention sexual recombination, and genomic duplication and rearrangement as sources of phenotypic variation that don’t alter protein structure at all.

  4. MudPuddles says

    These goombahs have become a ridiculous parody of themselves. Its really depressing that these people get any traction with anyone anywhere.

    It strikes me that his third point on fossils being the only evidence for evolution displays a startling inability to even use the internet. There is ample living evidence of evolution – anti-microbial resistance, and the European peppered moth are just two which Google turned up for me in a few seconds of effort.

    As for the “mutations are all bad” nonsense, I dare say that the mutation which has given me dark brown eyes rimmed with deep blue has done me no harm whatsoever. Unless you count the occasional suprised “wow, are you wearng contacts?” as a bad thing. Got me a date with an optician, who I’ve been with for the past 5 years, so I reckon that mutation has been pretty positive!

  5. spinniac says

    Will the Science Parliament please make the Theory of Evolution into the Law of Evolution?

  6. Spector567 says

    I left a comment on there site however, I believe they are being moderated.

    I suspect my comment about it being ethically wrong to quote mine and that the author needs a greater understanding of physics, chemistry and ethics. Will be deleted because it violates there rules.

    “Comments may not contain profanity, threats, libel, accusations of wrongdoing (moral or legal) against others, copyrighted material, HTML code or hyperlinks, or violate any part of our ”

    One very amusing thing is the comment that did get posted.
    “Evolution is a myth…why aren’t monkeys still evolving into humans?” Senator Christine O’Donnell (R)(Delaware)”

    It could just be me but I read this as someone mocking the article with a comment that would get through the censors.

    If conflicting information doesn’t get through the censors. Maybe a list of the most inane creationist quotes will.

  7. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    Shorter PZ: *facepalm!*

    It is that we have always had zero energy.

    Well, yeah. Even with my (granted) limited grasp of physics, I get this.

    I bet you could really confuse these morons with a bouncy ball.

    low-energy poop

    I have got to find a way to turn that into an insult. :P

  8. Kees says

    But this is something we need a better word for: he’s stating as a certainty a false ‘fact’, acting as an authority in a field he actually knows nothing about, and is intentionally promoting a counterfactual to advance an ideology. He’s a disinformation agent, sowing propaganda: it’s worse than lying.

    I believe the correct term is ‘bullshitting’

  9. spinniac says

    Regarding the last (gene) argument: In other words, no *true* mutation is beneficial (true for Scotsmen at least). So-called beneficial mutations are considered gifts from the Almighty.

  10. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Danny Boy:

    Isn’t EVERY fossil transitional?

    Heh. Actually evolutionary theory predicts that ~50% of fossils are not transitional. In any phylogenetic tree of n organisms, there are 2n-3 branches. Naturally, of these 2n-3 branches, n are terminal branches. These do not lead to more branches, and therefore aren’t transitional. This leaves 2n-3-n = n-3 internal branches that are transitional. Therefore the percentage of branches that are expected to be transitional is (n-3)/(2n-3)…as n gets very large, this ratio approaches 50%.

  11. says

    I’m surprised that PZ didn’t also mention Fischer’s shameful misuse of “Law” and “Theory”. That alone shows what a pile of drivel Fischer’s piece was.

  12. chigau ({[]}) says

    “First Law, Second Law, Fossils, Genes”
    sound like the beginning of a skipping rhyme.

  13. kraut says

    “The problem: naturally occurring genetic mutations are invariably harmful if not fatal to the organism. Rather than improve an organism’s capacity to survive, they invariably weaken it”

    This incomparable idiot is only able to spout such nonsense because he missed the fact that agriculture for the last 10 000years relies on beneficial mutations.
    Too bad on one hand – it permits idiots like Fisher to survive because the “harmful mutations” help to produce food for billions.

    Don’t forget – Darwin heavily relied on the breeding results from “fanciers” and agriculture to demonstrate evolution (by non natural selection) and made the jump from there to natural selection.

  14. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    “The Big Bang didn’t happen therefore evolution is false.” It takes a special kind of bullshitter to equate one thing with something completely different.

  15. co says

    “First Law, Second Law, Fossils, Genes”
    sound like the beginning of a skipping rhyme.

    I suspect the whole purpose of the skipping is not to step on any facts.

  16. unbound says

    @Danny Boy (#3) – The problem is that creationists claim every transitional fossil found is just proof that two more gaps exist.

    If you have fossil A and fossil C, the creationist points out the gap between A and C. Once you find fossil B (as predicted via evolution theory), they now say you have gaps between A and B as well as B and C. You can’t win with these IDiots…at least not thru actual rational discussion.

  17. GJames says

    We don’t need a new word. It’s just lying. Lying for Jesus, but a doltish end doesn’t make the means anything but a lie.

  18. Dianne says

    The problem: naturally occurring genetic mutations are invariably harmful if not fatal to the organism. Rather than improve an organism’s capacity to survive, they invariably weaken it.

    WTF? Hasn’t this guy ever heard to antibiotic resistance? How does he think it happens if not by evolutionary selection of bacteria that can survive antibiotic administration? True, not all of the changes that promote survival are de novo mutations, but some are and it’s a clear example of selection of traits that are pro-survival in a given environment.

    Alternately, perhaps we should move to humans and an example that I’m sure he believes supports his thesis: the sickle gene. Sickle cell disease (two copies of S-betaglobin) is, of course, disadvantageous. So why do so many people have it? Because sickle trait (SA, one normal, one sickle) is advantageous in an environment with a lot of malaria and not much else to do about it. Thus, two people with sickle trait will have, on average, 50% children with a survival advantage in a malarial region without other interventions available, 25% with no advantage or disadvantage, 25% with a disadvantage. That ends up with an advantage overall, making the mutation an improvement on the organism (person)’s ability to survive. In a particular environment. Post-anti-malarials, it becomes less important and the disadvantageous component becomes more obvious.

    Also people who use the laws of thermodynamics to argue against evolution should be required to write “The earth is not a closed system” 100X on a blackboard somewhere. It’s not really that hard to figure out, people.

  19. bananacat says

    This idiot must have spent his entire life under a rock, which is why he so unaware of the sun and its thermodynamic relationship with the Earth.

  20. Allen L. says

    We can make the creatards cationic if we use 2 bouncy balls. Put a small ball on top of a large ball and then drop both at the same time. The smaller ball will bounce much higher than the original drop height.

    Wait, we better not. They may then claim gravity doesn’t work or now there’s antigravity.

    Fischer is a low enthalpy coprocephalic.

  21. says

    Hmm, I went over there and clicked on “post comment” only to find it contained a prefilled comment already. I have never been there so I have no idea what the source would be. Anyone recognise this comment?

    The problem with “First Law, Second Law, Fossils and Genes” is that not a single one of these refutations is actually valid or even sensical.

    I would highly encourage the readers of the article to learn a little bit about what Bryan is claiming and encouraging. If you follow his advice, you’re going to be — rightly — laughed at by those who actually understand this stuff.

    Just some friendly advice.

  22. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    Dianne,

    WTF? Hasn’t this guy ever heard to antibiotic resistance? How does he think it happens if not by evolutionary selection of bacteria that can survive antibiotic administration?

    From the direction in which his arguments go, I assume that Fischer is one of those people who consider other organisms only in the way they relate to humans. So for him, antibiotic resistance in bacteria may as well be considered a bad mutation – that is, bad for humans.

  23. fishnguy says

    Mr. Fischer was a pastor here in Boise, Idaho a few years back. He helped stir up a “controversy” over some ten commandments monument on public land. After sowing a great deal of misinformation and causing a great deal of friction he left the area. I’m not amazed he’s doing the same thing in pursuit of what he mistakes for the truth. Such a useless waste of a life. Just making “low grade poop” to borrow P.Z.’s phrase. I see Fischer is in Mississippi, where his foolishness blends in more easily. (apologies to any thoughtful Mississippi residents)

  24. says

    First Law, Second Law, Fossils, Genes,
    I’ve known this since I was in my teens
    Left side, right side, top side, middle
    Evolution can’t happen, not even a little
    Darwin says yes, Behe says no
    It ignores the direction of energetic flow

     

    (Skip one, skip two, skip three and four)

     

    In the matter of records, fossils are the worst
    In the matter of gaps, they will always be cursed
    With all of the history there’s not a single transition
    Creationistly speaking, it defies intuition
    Darwin says yes, Fischer says no
    With no crocoducks, it has got to go!

     

    (Skip five, skip six, skip seven and eight)

     

    Genetically speaking, we’re perfectly made
    With all of God’s kinds in life’s big parade
    Any little change will lead to a mess
    Micro-biol-o-gists have got to confess
    Darwin says yes, Coulter says no
    And she is one who aught to know!

     

    (Skip nine, skip ten, skip eleven and twelve)

     

    So listen to me, children, and don’t you forget:
    Behe, Fischer, and Coulter are full of shit!

  25. post says

    “Senator” Christine O’Donnell quote (bottom of the page) – I think IDiocy has reached a new evolutionary “step.”

  26. coralline says

    Hmm, I went over there and clicked on “post comment” only to find it contained a prefilled comment already. I have never been there so I have no idea what the source would be. Anyone recognise this comment?

    The problem with “First Law, Second Law, Fossils and Genes” is that not a single one of these refutations is actually valid or even sensical.

    I would highly encourage the readers of the article to learn a little bit about what Bryan is claiming and encouraging. If you follow his advice, you’re going to be — rightly — laughed at by those who actually understand this stuff.

    Just some friendly advice.

    That was me. I’m surprised they posted it, but glad they did! My “friendly” advice isn’t all that friendly, but I figured comments would be so heavily censored that it would be the only way to possibly get anything in there that isn’t some Praise Jebus! crap.

  27. coralline says

    Hrm. Guess they didn’t post it, only that my comment ended up in their pre-filled comment box. Well, too many for me.

  28. kantalope says

    It is time to start calling it the Law of Evolution; it should not matter but apparently it does. Who is in charge of marketing around here?

    “First Law, Second Law, Fossils, Genes”
    You can’t fool us with your evolution memes
    Three, Four, Five, Loop
    You just go back to your low energy poop

    ok that last line needs work

  29. Ax says

    If you don’t want to call it “lying” try “bearing false witness”. It’s a more precise and accurate term for what he’s doing.

  30. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    Allen:

    They may then claim gravity doesn’t work or now there’s antigravity.

    Don’t laugh. I have heard this argument.

    (Well, it wasn’t about bouncy balls, but a small child jumping. Same argument, though.)

  31. says

    coralline,
    It appears they are no better at coding than they are are at understanding evolution. I have to wonder what piss poor code gurus they have working for them if s random comment from someone else can appear in the textbox when I want to make a comment.

    Anyway, I wish your comment would appear but it looks like that s not going to happen

  32. comfychair says

    At some point you have to ask, ‘why bother?’ They don’t care if their, ahem – arguments – are correct or not, and they don’t care about facts. They are just trying to sow enough F.U.D. to open up a little wedge just big enough to slip in some Jesus. After all, that’s the version of morality they have learned from their magic book.

    If they cared, they wouldn’t keep themselves locked in their airtight echo chamber, rebreathing their own fetid Jesus farts. They don’t care, that’s not why they keep making these arguments. No matter how big your crowbar is you’ll never pry open the door of their fart chamber. They like it in there.

  33. Kieran says

    First he is confused over what a law in science is versus what a theory is. Secondly confused over what a mutation can or can’t do.
    Thirdly has no idea of human behaviour. If a basic law in phyiscs really did overturn the major paradigm of biology, I can just imagine my phyiscs friends coming over a taking the piss out of all the biologists in the pub night after night.

  34. says

    I love it when you rip people apart like this. Not only do I invariably learn something I didn’t know before, but I always feel better prepared for whatever new argument my SDA family (the only folks who really challenge my views) is planning for my next visit.

  35. Zinc Avenger says

    Allen L. @ 22:

    We can make the creatards cationic if we use 2 bouncy balls

    No, harness this power for good! Show them this then invite them to jump off a building!

    After all, they think they can reason their way out of reality with false premises, soundbites, appeals to emotion and faulty reasoning…

  36. Hypatia's Daughter says

    I am no physicist, but it seems to me that even in a closed system, going from a low entropy to a high entropy state is how WORK gets done. If the work I want to get done is cooling my warm potato salad, I put it into a cooler (closed system) with ice (a low entropy state). After a few hours,the ice has warmed (melted) and the potato salad has cooled. It is now a high entropy state – but work has been done!
    How much initial energy you have to work with may limit how much work can be done, but it doesn’t violate the SLoT (until you run out of energy).

    And could we please start calling any CreoIDer who believes in micro-evolution a “Darwinist”? Because, micro or macro,it all evolutionary theory came from Darwin. Might make their heads explode,and that couldn’t be a bad thing.
    (I saw a video of a debate PZ had with some Creotard and PZ challenged him on his use of “Darwinist”. It stunned the guy and totally took him off his canned patter for about 5 minutes. Hilarious!!)

  37. Stonyground says

    Surely if this guy’s argument about mutations was valid all humans would be exactly alike. We would, all seven billion of us, look like identical twins except for a small number of unfortunate people who are disabled by birth defects.

    Even if his arguments were not so weak, we don’t need to take him seriously anyway. This is because his arguments are packaged along with his not at all hidden agenda. Evolution proves his Bible false and puts his god on the unemployment line.

  38. coralline says

    I am no physicist, but it seems to me that even in a closed system, going from a low entropy to a high entropy state is how WORK gets done.

    Careful. You can’t do thermodynamics without understanding entropy. You also can’t do it without understanding energy. However, conflating the two is easily — and incorrectly — often done. In fact, your postulation of the closed system raises the question: On what is the work being performed?

    Diffusion is a process, for example, in which no _work_ is done, but in which entropy increases dramatically. Going from a low entropy state to a high one is something which _prevents_ work from being done.

  39. Brain Hertz says

    Every gain in complexity in biology is matched by an even greater increase in entropy. I was once a tiny single cell, and I have increased in complexity and bulk over the years by chowing down on a mountain of high-energy food and turning it into a mountain of low-energy poop.

    Actually, I don’t think this is quite right, subject to the meaning of the term “complexity” that you’re using; an increase in complexity is an increase in entropy.

    This is the part that Dembski (and many others) consistently get backwards. They start from the statistical thermodynamics formulation of the second law that ordered systems become more disordered over time, and assume that the ordered state is the one that contains the most information (or complexity, depending on the measurement method). It’s not. The second law implies that the total information in a closed system only ever increases.

  40. Brain Hertz says

    aaargghh. Close tag fail. Should have previewed. Only the word “is” is supposed to be in italics.

  41. Hemogoblin says

    We can make the creatards cationic if we use 2 bouncy balls.

    While I dislike creationists as much as the next person, I still think it’s wrong to ionize them. And it’ll upset your friendly neighborhood RPO.

    As for thermodynamics, I always think of the classic FSTDT quote

  42. Mister Sleight of Hand says

    Dianne @20:

    WTF? Hasn’t this guy ever heard to antibiotic resistance? How does he think it happens if not by evolutionary selection of bacteria that can survive antibiotic administration?

    Obviously the g-man likes bacteria better than us. Why else would he make so many of the damn things? Beetles, of course, are a close second.

    Allen L. @22:

    Wait, we better not. They may then claim gravity doesn’t work or now there’s antigravity.

    No, no this is a good thing because then, with apologies to Tim Minchin, “they might just float the fuck away.”

  43. Khantron says

    This is interesting, I was reading the AFA’s acceptable use policy and came across this:

    Neither AFA content, nor any links to AFA.net or RightlyConcerned.com, may be posted on any website, transmitted through any electronic delivery system (i.e. “email”), or published in any print publication that engages in any of the following:

    Any behavior or speech, or advocacy of any behavior or speech that, in the sole opinion of the management of the American Family Association, is contrary to biblical standards of morality (Example: encouraging sex outside of marriage);

    How funny, it looks like the cyber police are going to come for PZ.

  44. Bob says

    Apparently fair use only applies to the creationist side when it cherry picks and quote mines, and not the side of reason, who invariably actually uses entire quotes, in context, with no attempt at deception.

  45. says

    Do’h. The “laws” of thermodynamics are small pieces of the greater “theory” of thermodynamics. It’s like a lemma to a theorem.

    Also, why is it so damn hard for people to realize that we’re not a closed system?

  46. FishyFred says

    I’d say he’s lying, but I know what a lot of people would say: “he’s not literally lying, he’s just ignorant”. But this is something we need a better word for: he’s stating as a certainty a false ‘fact’, acting as an authority in a field he actually knows nothing about, and is intentionally promoting a counterfactual to advance an ideology. He’s a disinformation agent, sowing propaganda: it’s worse than lying.

    The term you’re looking for is “virulent ignorance.” Ed Brayton has been using it for years now.

  47. roxchix says

    Spinniac @6 and Kantalope @ 31.

    We are pretty much stuck with the current use of the homonyms of ‘theory’ and ‘law’. Maybe it would have been better if the early natural philosophers had come up with different terms, but (at least in English) for now the problem is just with the creationists willful refusal to distinguish between the specific scientific meaning and the non-scientific meaning.

    Scientific Theories and Laws aren’t in the same hierarchy. Theories are explanations of the causal mechanisms governing a part of the physical world . Laws are statistical or mathematical descriptions of a specific set of behaviors of phenomenon in part of the physical world.

    The Theory of Evolution, i.e. descent with modification from a common ancestor, would never become a Law, as those terms are defined in the scientific community. The basic Laws of physics and chemistry are utilized within the Theory of evolution.

    If I ever go back to teaching, I am going to hammer this into my students heads at every opportunity.

  48. Ktesibios says

    The idiots keep making the same arguments, over and over again, and they just get dumber with every iteration.

    Have you ever argued with a Moon Hoaxer or a 9/11 troofer? They routinely do exactly the same thing- introduce a series of specious claims, watch as they all get torn to shreds and danced upon by people who actually know what they’re talking about and then trot out the first claim all over again. It seems that the crank mentality is peculiarly susceptible to a particular mode of broken thinking.

    It reminds me of a fine series of educational films produced by Hammer Films in the ’60s and ’70s starring (usually) Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Pretty much anything with the word “Dracula” in the title will demonstrate the principle nicely: no matter how thoroughly staked, sunburnt, drownded, dustified and generally trashed the Count was in the previous flick, there’s always some noob to come along and renew the Count’s contract for one more go-round

  49. otrame says

    At some point you have to ask, ‘why bother?’ They don’t care if their, ahem – arguments – are correct or not, and they don’t care about facts.

    They don’t care, but some people, and there are some, honestly seeking the truth, will hear what we have to say and understand these guys are liars. We get testimonials to that effect here. Not often, but every one is a treasure, one more person who has learned to think for themselves and to accept reality.

  50. Hurin, Nattering Nabob of Negativism says

    Ktesibios

    Have you ever argued with a Moon Hoaxer or a 9/11 troofer? They routinely do exactly the same thing- introduce a series of specious claims, watch as they all get torn to shreds and danced upon by people who actually know what they’re talking about and then trot out the first claim all over again. It seems that the crank mentality is peculiarly susceptible to a particular mode of broken thinking.

    Basically. From what I’ve seen, a lot of the conspiracy theories out there function as religious beleifs with large, powerful, conspiracies substituted for gods. The arguments for them always suck because the people who believe them are willing to take accept them on faith with no evidence or argument given. It never surprises me when talking to one of them feels exactly like talking to an apologist.

  51. cyberCMDR says

    PZ, I say take ‘em (Fischer & Coulter) on. Post short video clips to YouTube directly refuting each of their points, and title them as direct responses to these IDiots. Make them look as stupid as they are. They’re never going to read or acknowledge the points made here, so take the fight to them.

    Do this with Coulter’s last bit of nonsense, and maybe she’ll think up a title for you. Her site doesn’t allow for comments (which is why she can say the liberals never responded), so call her and the other dimwits out in a way they can’t ignore.

  52. jimbobboy says

    Did you notice the closing tag beneath the post proper? It reads:

    “Evolution is a myth…why aren’t monkeys still evolving into humans?” Senator Christine O’Donnell (R)(Delaware)

    Ignore the quotation itself for a moment (on the internal evidence of its blinding stupidity, I don’t doubt it’s authentic). Read the attribution. That’s right. In the Bizarro-world inhabited by Bryan Fischer, this perky cabbage was actually elected. Need anything more be said?

  53. kantalope says

    @58 – even better students could tackle these for evil-extracredit. Would have to word it: make a video supporting or demolishing claims made by these folks…

    but let’s face it students needing the extra credit would take the easy route

    k

  54. says

    “First law, second law, fossils, genes.” What, no Hitler?

    What really, really really amazes me (as distinct from merely really amazing me) is the thinking implicit in the second law “objection.” These people actually believe that scientists, who devote their professional lives to these fields of study, with all the learning and testing and reasoning involved, would somehow all miss such an obvious flaw in the theory. And that simple, ordinary people who have barely given it any thought can see it immediately.
    Yes, there is an answer for that. Scientists call it “Mr. Sun.”
    Ack. It’s one thing to be stupid; it’s quite another to deny the existence of intelligence, the value of learning, or the reliability of scientific methods. Especially while spending every moment of every day reaping the benefits of such things.

  55. tyaddow says

    I seriously have not read a piece that infuriatingly wrong-headed and grotesquely misguided in years, and I do read a fair amount of creationist writing. How can this kind of willfully ignorant propaganda thrive in the light of day? It’s really breaking my spirit.

  56. JohnnieCanuck says

    I should very much like to find a way to reflect back the intellectual pain Bryan Fischer causes when he deliberately spreads his delusions. Something not too illegal.

  57. says

    I’d say he’s lying, but I know what a lot of people would say: “he’s not literally lying, he’s just ignorant”. But this is something we need a better word for

    I think I can help with that. The writers at Language Log (a linguistics blog) have taken to using the technical meaning of ‘bullshit’ for just this sort of thing. Scroll down a bit here to see their citation of Harry Frankfurt’s outlining of the meaning.

    Here’s part of it:

    This is the crux of the distinction between [the bullshitter] and the liar. Both he and the liar represent themselves falsely as endeavoring to communicate the truth. The success of each depends upon deceiving us about that. But the fact about himself that the liar hides is that he is attempting to lead us away from a correct apprehension of reality; we are not to know that he wants us to believe something he supposes to be false. The fact about himself that the bullshitter hides, on the other hand, is that the truth-values of his statements are of no central interest to him; what we are not to understand is that his intention is neither to report the truth nor to conceal it. This does not mean that his speech is anarchically impulsive, but that the motive guiding and controlling it is unconcerned with how the things about which he speaks truly are.

  58. paleobarbie says

    Re beneficial mutations.

    Something I heard recently (haven’t checked, but was from a reliable source) is that the capacity for lactose tolerance in adults has evolved independently in Europeans and East Africans (ie., genes involved are different)

  59. Owlmirror says

    “Bryan Fischer and the Dogmatic Incantations” is clearly a great band name.

    I thought it was an obvious riff on Harry Potter titles.

    “Bryan Fischer and the Chant of Lies”

    “Bryan Fischer and the Propaganda of Creationism”

    “Bryan Fischer and the Distortion of Science”

    “Bryan Fischer and the Refusal to Learn”

    (etc)

  60. Scott says

    Isn’t any difference in successive generations a mutation? Being taller than either of my parents is a mutation, isn’t it?

  61. Owlmirror says

    Isn’t any difference in successive generations a mutation?

    Not exactly. Any difference in the DNA between generations is a mutation. There are about 100 mutations between successive generations, on a very rough average.

    Being taller than either of my parents is a mutation, isn’t it?

    No, not necessarily at all. Some differences have far more to do with environment than with genes alone. And height is famous for being one of those differences. Differences in nutrition, during early childhood and adolescence when the body is growing, can affect height very greatly.

  62. amphiox says

    Isn’t any difference in successive generations a mutation?

    A difference in successive generation is a variation. Variations may or may not be heritable. Selection would act on both, but only heritable variation gets a chance of being passed down and amplified over several generations.

    The majority of mutations are actually neutral, and don’t produce any noticeable difference between successive generations, at least at first. One of the neat things we see in many evolutionary histories is how a neutral mutation that produces no observable difference when it first appears, interacts later with another mutation, which may also have been neutral and produced no observable difference when it first appeared, to produce in combination a difference which turns out to matter, evolutionarily speaking.

  63. Tim DeLaney says

    The obligatory chant of “no transitional fossils, not one” continues to bug me, and evolutionary biologists rarely even try to explain why this is a red herring. Maybe this is because real scientists don’t understand the chant because it is so far removed from rational thinking.

    Given fossils A, B, and C, a scientist might assert that B is transitional between A and C. This doesn’t mean that specimen C was directly descended from B, and that B was directly descended from A in a strict genealogical sense. However, this is exactly what the creationist means, because the creationist sees evolution as something that happens to individuals, rather than to populations.

    But the scientist knows that the right thought is that A belonged to a population very closely related to the population ancestral to B, and that B belonged to a population closely related to the population ancestral to C.

    We will never, barring the most improbable of coincidences, find fossils A, B, and C such that A is strictly ancestral to B, and B is strictly ancestral to C. In that sense, the creationists are right: there are no transitional fossils, at least not according to their definition.

    Now try to explain this to a group that hopelessly muddles the difference between “theory”, “fact” and “law”

  64. azkyroth says

    I’d apply for Randi’s million dollar challenge, except reading the mind of a droning cretin isn’t much of a challenge.

    One does not read the minds of the likes of Bryan Fischer.

    One looks at the pictures.

  65. RobertL says

    The first bit of Fischer’s comments that annoyed me was this:

    This law (note: not a theory but a scientific law) teaches us that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed. In other words, an honest scientist will tell you that there is nothing in the observable universe that can explain either the origin of energy or matter. By logical extension, then, matter and energy had to come into being by some force outside the universe.

    That’s just crap. Just because we can’t explain something, doesn’t mean that it had to come into being by some force from outside the universe. That’s not a logical extension!

  66. Gregory says

    Best case in point about beneficial mutations: the one that lets adults digest lactose into adulthood. Only 25% of the adult human population is fully lactase persistent, and another 20% or so can digest lactose to some diminished degree. The mutation that allows this arose three times, in three different forms: western Europe, Tibet and, most recently, among the Massai people in Africa.

    If you are older than six and still able to drink a glass of milk, congradulations! You are a mutant.

  67. Species8472 says

    As a physicist I always laugh at their 2ndlaw of thermodynamics argument. According to their argument, a fridge or a freezer would be physically impossible too. They both reduce the level of entropy within by consuming energy. However a fridge generate more entropy in its environment than it reduces in the matter inside the fridge. The net is an increase.