Up is down. Black is white. Atheism is religion.

Humpty Dumpty

If you can’t beat ’em, define ’em out of existence!

Some members of the intelligent design community seem to have a genuinely hard time understanding that non-religious people actually exist. They don’t have convincing arguments for their religion, so they attempt an end run around reason by simply declaring that everyone is religious.

[Read more…]

A stuck mensch

    Journey into bullshitJourney into bullshit

I have never blocked a comment on this site that wasn’t straight-up spam. This should not be construed as a promise that I never will; it’s my site, and I reserve the right to block anything for any reason. So far, I just haven’t seen the need.

Not that I haven’t had some pushback in the comments, but I generally prefer to let the criticism stand. Sometimes I answer it. Sometimes the arguments are so inane that I think they have the opposite of their intended effect. And sometimes they’re so gloriously bad that I want to make sure my readers see them. This one falls into the third category.

[Read more…]

Betteridge’s law of headlines, part 2

No.

Still no.

Do religious people realize how obvious their insecurities become when they try to define everything they don’t like as religion? I’ve previously written about one example here (“Evolution is religion; intelligent design is science“), and John Staddon, James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Professor of Biology, Emeritus, at Duke University, has provided another.

As I wrote in part 1, Dr. Staddon is oblivious to the fact that his own argument refutes his central thesis, that secular humanism is a religion:

All religions have three elements. Secular humanism lacks one of those elements. This is the point at which an intellectually honest writer who was not committed to his thesis would reconsider his position. Dr. Staddon chooses another route: ignore the contradiction and stay the course.

I also said that Dr. Staddon’s article was “a hot mess of unsupported assertions, innuendos, and self-contradictions,” but I didn’t go into detail. This post is to give examples of what I meant.

[Read more…]

A clever little two-step

Baym et al. 2016 Fig. 1B

Figure 1B from Baym et al. 2016. Experimental evolution of antibiotic resistance in E. coli bacteria. Bacteria were inoculated at both ends of the plate and evolved to tolerate the initially deadly concentration of antibiotic in the middle.

It’s possible for something to be both true and misleading. Here’s a great example. Frank Sherwin, a Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research, recently wrote,

Evolutionists list antibiotic resistance as evidence of evolution, but in reality it has nothing to do with the origin of antibiotic resistance genes—let alone novel bacterial species.

Each of those things is true, but the sentence still manages to be misleading. Evolutionary biologists do regard antibiotic resistance as evidence of evolution. Real-time observations of the evolution of antibiotic resistance, like those in Michael Baym’s experiment, demonstrate evolution in action. Those experiments do have nothing to do with the origin of novel genes or of speciation. I’ve just admitted that both parts of the sentence are true, so what’s the problem?

It’s the but.

[Read more…]

Intelligent design advocates tell me what I believe

Uncommon Descent header

I consider myself a materialist, by which I mean that I believe that I believe the physical universe, that of matter, energy, and spacetime, is all that exists. I don’t, in other words, believe in magic, or in magical beings. I wasn’t always a materialist; I’ve been a Christian, and I’ve also believed some (non-religious) mystical nonsense. If you prefer to classify my beliefs as physicalist, naturalist, or some other category, I don’t mind.

I don’t believe in the supernatural. I’m not too picky about what you call it.

As best I can tell, what most intelligent design advocates call it is materialism, and that’s what is important for the purposes of this post. Because those folks have some strange ideas about what materialists believe.

For example, Barry Arrington says

Staggeringly sophisticated systems such as the blood clotting cascade are not ordinarily assembled through the accretion of random errors.

Yet every materialist believes the claim as a matter of course.

I don’t believe that. I don’t know anyone who does.

[Read more…]