Anyone in Columbia, Missouri reading this?

Did you also attend this Intelligent Design quackery talk by John Marshall? Report in, please, and let us know how stupid it was (there is no doubt that it was stupid, we’re just interested in measuring the degree.)

Marshall is yet another M.D. who became a creationist because he looked objectively at the evid… oh, wait, no. None of them do that. It’s because:

But Marshall began to look into what he said were holes in the theory. And after becoming a Christian, Marshall found it hard to reconcile evolutionary theory with Genesis, the biblical account of how God created the earth and everything on it in six days. Marshall has since become a proponent of the view that there are some natural systems that cannot be adequately explained by natural forces, and therefore must be the result of intelligent design, or ID.

Isn’t it curious how religion is such a powerful force for inoculating people with appalling inanity?


  1. Carlie says

    Yep. I’m amazed at how the “obvious” “science” of ID is never accepted by actual scientists until AFTER they’ve had a religious conversion. Simple coincidence? I think not.

  2. John F says

    Ah, crap!

    I am in Columbia, MO, but I didn’t know this talk was going on. I wish I could have gone and represented a little bit of PZ magic, but, sadly, it was not to be.

    Oddly enough, there’s a storm going on here with a tornado warning; whatever this guy said at his talk, god must be PISSED!

  3. abd_chick says

    I echo John – I just left Columbia about an hour ago, and had I known there was a talk I would have headed over to get my quota of stupid (and report back, of course). ARRRGH!

  4. j says

    Yes, I live in Columbia, Missouri. When I saw the flyer for Marshall’s talk (advertised in a public high school biology classroom, no less), I became suspicious immediately: “Intelligent Design: Religion or Science?” I stopped reading when I saw the “MD” behind “John Marshall.” I did not go to the talk.

    I used to be so proud of our progressive Missourian town!

  5. Kseniya says

    I’m still in therapy trying to recover from the month I spent reading, and posting on, the Eagle 93 talk-radio message board. Columbia folk will know what I am talking about.

  6. John Mruzik says

    I am a resident of Columbia, Mo. I love this liberal town. Just a jerk for Jesus. They can be found anywhere.

  7. Ian B Gibson says

    And after becoming a Christian, Marshall found it hard to reconcile evolutionary theory with Genesis, the biblical account of how God created the earth and everything on it in six days.

    Well, I would agree with him that it is indeed hard to reconcile the two. He just needs to work on his doublethink skills, though.

    Millions of moderate Christians have succeeded in this so I’d recommend he just keep trying.

  8. jimmiraybob says

    Damn…there’s a bunch of us here in Columbia. We oughta have a get-together sometime, invite PZ down…

    Well, there’s always this:

    Columbia, MO
    Institute for Creation Research – Loop Tours
    Date: May 4, 2007
    Time: 4:00 PM
    Speaker: Jim Gardner
    Region: Midwestern states
    Location: Lighthouse Community Church 4275 Hwy WW Columbia, MO 65201

    Lectures to be presented:

    “Those Terrible Dinosaurs”

    “The Relevance of Creation”

    “One Blood”

  9. BKArthur says

    I, too, am currently residing in Columbia (and a loyal pharyngula reader) who, just now, heard of this talk. It’s an interesting town – a strange mix of liberal, free-thinking collegiate types and Bible-belt fundamentalists. The radio station mentioned in a comment above is notorious for being biased toward the right-wing and the angel-wing (if you can get the pun there), in both their choice of programs and their station ID spiels. Interestingly, they proclaim to present “both sides of every issue” (because, as we all know, there are always only two viewpoints on any political, religious, or social issue).

  10. Frank Williams says

    For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 1 Cor. 1:21

    The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Cor. 2:14

    You and your commenters are clearly very smart people, but fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. See Ps. 111:10

    Frank Williams

  11. Millimeter Wave says

    I find it hard to reconcile Genesis with this.

    Aha! But that just PROVES that before the FLOOD the atmosphere was much richer in OXYGEN and DNA didn’t degrade due to the lack of cosmic rays, thereby causing all living things to GROW to gigantic sizes!

    And if you doubt this is true, how come there are…

    (the remainder is left as an exercise for the reader)

  12. says

    Mr Williams, two questions:
    A) If fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then how come the Bible says “Love casteth out fear”? If we want to know the Lord, we must not allow ourselves to know love?
    B) How does reading the Bible literally resolve the unknown portions of the evolutionary histories of various prehistoric animal groups, such as placoderms, trilobites and dinosaurs?

  13. says

    Sorry I got it posted too late — I didn’t see the email from a reader that mentioned it until this evening. If I’d known I could have sicced a mob of evilutionists on this guy, I would have taken advantage of the opportunity.

    I was in Columbia a few years ago. Nice college town; I didn’t see much of it but the university.

  14. Chris says

    Here I am, reading Dawkins’ God Delusion, and he mentions this blog. I come here, and the top story is about UMC, where I attended 20 years ago.

    If that isn’t proof of God’s existence, what is?

  15. Martini says

    I couldn’t go, I had community theatre rehearsal. Plus, I get my full RDA of stupid on the Internets.
    Last year we had an incumbent school board member who got voted out after speaking approvingly of ID at a League of Women Voters event.

  16. Kseniya says

    “Both sides of every issue” meaning this:

    On one hand, we have the wrong side — the side that lacks a moral compass, the terrorist-sympathizing, bed-wetting, Hollywood liberal Socialist-sodomist, baby-killing intellectual elitist side…

    And on the other we have The Right Side — Our Side, The Square-Jawed, Clear-Eyed, Fair-Minded, Underdog-defending, Godly American Conservative Side, The Side Of Those Who Know What Needs To Be Done And Have The Courage To Do It!

    (As I said, I’m still in therapy over this.)

    One day, approximately three years ago, a certain twenty-year-old female college student posted a question about abortion. She was just asking for opinions, and not really making any kind of statement about it, but even so one guy came back at her with something like this: “I’ve never seen such pathetic ignorance. I guess somebody had to man the gas chambers.”

    Unbelievable. And a comment like that wasn’t very far out of character for the board. The guy who posted it was, I think, in the Life Sciences dept at the University.

    And then there was the time that another guy, who was a Michael Savage devotee, posted that it was “time to gun down all the liberals.” Mmmmkay. I have to… uh… go now.

    To be fair, there were a few nice people on the board who were willing to bat ideas around, and a couple of tenacious liberals – one of whom I wouldn’t exactly call nice, but his put-downs were funny as hell. Anyway, I guess Columbia is a pretty decent place, but wow did I see an ugly little piece of it.

  17. thwaite says

    Mr Williams (#15),

    You have perhaps heard of Saint Augustine, who played an early and central role in Christianity’s origin, long before Protestantism or any fundamentalism appeared. I was recently reminded by these quotes from him (elsewhere at this site) of how much wiser that fifth-century Christian was than many of today’s:

    We must be on our guard against giving interpretations which are hazardous or opposed to science, and so exposing the word of God to the ridicule of unbelievers. –Saint Augustine, De genesi ad litteram libri duodecim (The Literal Meaning of Genesis) (415), I, nos. 19, 21, 39

    Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. … Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1:7] –Saint Augustine, De genesi ad litteram libri duodecim (The Literal Meaning of Genesis) (415), from J. H. Taylor, transl., Ancient Christian Writers, Newman Press, 1982, volume 41.

  18. Rey Fox says

    The collected body of rigorous scientific thought and observations of 150+ years doesn’t seem reconcilable with this moldy old book of tall tales! What ever shall I do?! Sheesh.

  19. T. Bruce McNeely says

    Talen Lee:

    Here is what Kurt Vonnegut said about ID:

    “I do feel that evolution is being controlled by some sort of divine engineer. I can’t help thinking that. And this engineer knows exactly what he or she is doing and why, and where evolution is headed. That’s why we’ve got giraffes and hippopotami and the clap.”

    Interpret that as you wish.

  20. G. Tingey says

    Mr Williams (#14 I think) …
    You said, quoting: ” … and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Cor. 2:14″

    And how, precisely are things “Spitiually” discerned?
    Presumably through the observer’s sensorium, in the same way as anything else.
    Where does that discernment, or message come from, and how is it transmitted and recieved?

    In other words, show the source of your observations and messages.

    This, of course is why, even if any god exists, he/she/it/they are not detectable, and therefore 150% irrelevant.

    I suggest you wake up.
    The poster referring to Augustine is onto a valid point as well – have you considered that, or for that matter, the teachings of Aquinas?

  21. says

    Please don’t recommend that people go to Aquinas for wisdom, G. Tingey. He’s largely responsible for that absurd “faith & reason cannot conflict” gobbledygook. Unfortunately, the claim that faith and reason must agree is itself an article of faith – an unsupported assumption rather than a justified conclusion. In practice, this position results in reasoned arguments being twisted beyond recognition, turned into mere rationalizations that support whatever conclusions are consistent with articles of faith (which are determined well in advance of, and without regard to, any arguments). Which in turn makes reading Aquinas headache-inducing for anyone with the critical thinking capacity of, say, a naked mole rat.

    Of course, I suspect you know all that already. And from the dismal intellectual depths from which Mr. Williams seems to be starting, Aquinas probably would be several steps up. But still… Aquinas? Ick.

  22. Sophist says

    …fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom*.

    *For very small values of wisdom.

  23. Man of Misery says

    Gives a whole new slant to the term “ID Doc”, doesn’t it.

    This isn’t too surprising, from the state whose voters just voted in the last election to support stem cell research, only to have the Legislature vote to eliminate any funding for any facility that does stem cell research. That money was to have come from the sale of the state’s publicly funded student load fund MOHELA) to a private entity (another bad idea, but WTH).

    Supporters of the (fiscal) rape of college students were vindictive enough to totally exclude the University of MO at Columbia and the University of MO at Kansas City because the representatives from those areas had the temerity to demand transparency in the deal. Oh, and they insisted that the legislature should follow the will of the people, as expressed in the last election. See:

    This is damn near Kansas, Dorothy.

  24. Dave says

    It’s interesting (is that the right word?) that people like Marshall can’t reconcile evolution and Genesis and so choose creationism – but how do they manage to reconcile the two different accounts of creation in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2? Do they believe Adam was created before all other animals, or after, or both?

  25. frank schmidt says

    I went, and kept score. 21 distortions, 15 half-truths, 10 outright falsehoods. Abour standard for a 40-minute talk. He also refused to answer any critical questions substantively. Same old, same old.
    (Cross-posted to Red State Rabble)

    Good news: about half the audience and most of the questioners were distinctly unsympatheitic to the good doctor.


  26. Mosasuarus rex says

    Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom? I would say that a fearless willingness to question is the beginning of wisdom- much moreso than the invocation of a magical text ever will be.

  27. Lynn says

    Frank Williams said: “but fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

    That’s simply codswallop. You need to go back and study that second creation account in Genesis.

    It’s crystal clear from that little fairy tale that fear of God was meant to keep old Adam and Eve terminally ignorant, particularly about the difference between good and evil.

    Fear of the Lord is the *end* of the search for wisdom.

    Sheesh. Doesn’t anybody ever read those creation myths for *content*? Any half-way objective examination of that second story should demonstrate that God isn’t the *hero* of the tale! That’s obviously the snake–liberator and champion of the quest for knowledge!


  28. says

    I am unfortunately on the east end of the state in St. Louis. However, I do plan to visit one of the ICR’s “loop” speeches and maybe ask some skeptical questions. I’ll have to do some reading about the guy’s presentation so that I know what I’ll be dealing with.

  29. Leon says

    after becoming a Christian, Marshall found it hard to reconcile evolutionary theory with Genesis . . . . Marshall has since become a proponent of . . . ID.

    But remember, ID has nothing to do with religion. No sir. It’s science all the way down.

  30. Jonathan King says

    Sorry, I moved out of Columbia last summer (I now live in the slums of Potomac, MD). As others have pointed out, the city of Columbia itself is not a very receptive place for creationists, but our intellectual impact on central Missouri is really shallow, and you as much wilful ignorance as you please even a mile or three out of town. So Columbia has an amazing modern library, but the out-county apparently just decisively rejected the plan to fund more and better libraries in their bailiwick. Bush won Boone County by about 35 votes in 2004.

  31. Frank Williams says

    I was amazed at the number of comments to my quotations of Scripture. Interestingly, I found PZ Myers in my google search for “America, Return to God”. I am a University of Pittsburgh graduate but lived in Columbia MO for 4 years practicing law. I am not a biologist and I am not well read in theology. My only purpose for quoting those verses was to make the point that God can not be found through the mind alone. I can not reason you into faith, yet the truth of Scripture cuts like a knife…it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12. To give an example of the difference between mind and spirit, I thought of the VA Tech tragedy. It appears that the shooter was severely mentally ill, perhaps schizophrenic, yet I also believe that a heart full of sin (pride, jealousy, hatred)kept him from seeking the help he needed. I would be more than glad to read Aquinas or St. Augustine if you will agree to read the Old and New Testaments, or even the Book of John. My guess is that you will dismiss this challenge as a stunt, or the ravings of a non-intellect. Do you really seek truth? Or do you assume that absolute truth does not exist…

  32. Leon says

    I’m about halfway through the Old Testament, and planning to finish the whole thing, if that counts.

    If you get no other replies, BTW, don’t think you’re being deliberately ignored. These blog entries don’t often get looked at much after the first couple days.

    If it seemed strange that your citing of scripture seemed to fall flat here, you have to consider the mindset of your audience. In religious circles, a holy document is considered the ultimate source of information and the final word on many questions. The document is considered Right, and generally not questionable. But science doesn’t work that way, and the folks here generally base their ideas on scientific reasoning.

    In science, there is no ultimate document that gives final answers. There’s no equivalent of Scripture; Darwin, Einstein, Newton, and all the others are only as good as their ideas. Some of what they wrote has been proven to be wrong, and so it’s no longer accepted by the scientific community. That doesn’t affect the validity of anything else they wrote, though, and we use their good ideas because they’ve been shown to work and they’ve been repeatedly tested and verified.

    It’s a subtle distinction, but when people like the Pharyngula crowd balk at citations of Scripture, it’s not because they believe in an alternative Scripture of their own; it’s because to them, Scripture is irrelevant. It may have good ideas at times, but it carries no authority of its own.