They used those teeth to crack coconuts, don’t you know

Wow. It’s been years since I heard a creationist bring up this argument. I thought it was as dead as the dinosaurs! But the crack team of Christian apologists actually said this (around the 11 or 12 minute mark):

Let’s do this thought experiment. You need to cut up a big head of lettuce. What do you reach for? Probably a sharp serrated knife.

If I were to show you the skull of a fruit bat, you’d probably think it was a meat-eater. But it uses those teeth to rip and shred the fruit of a mango.

What were they talking about? This.

A new study of the creature’s jawbone — published in Royal Society Open — found that the dinosaur often measured 26 feet long and weighed close to 2,200 pounds.

That means it was longer than an African elephant and heavier than a bison, according to Science Alert. So that’s pretty big.

No word on whether the scientists have discovered giant Mesozoic lettuces or mangoes. Yet.

My true and honest feelings about the death of Bob Enyart

A decade ago I briefly tangled with Bob Enyart and his pal Fred Williams. They had a show called Real Science Radio where they preached nonsense about creationism — there’s no real science anywhere in it — where they constantly claimed to have disproven evolution and threw debate challenges at every nobody (like me) that they stumbled across. Even then, I was disgusted with creationist debates and wasn’t going to get into it with a kook like Enyart. He sent me a challenge anyway, to explain how a little connective tissue loop in the eye socket called the trochlea evolved. I answered honestly.

I don’t know.

I don’t see any obvious obstacle to an arrangement of muscles evolving, but I don’t know the details of this particular set.

I explained why. We don’t have any intermediate forms for this tendon, so any thing I might suggest would be pure speculation, although I really don’t see anything unevolvable about the feature. I should have added that an interesting approach to answer it would involve tracking its development in some model vertebrate, such as a zebrafish, but I knew that would be a difficult job, given that it had to develop at something like 10-16 hours post-fertilization, not a task I would want to jump into. This is a solvable problem, even if it hasn’t been solved yet, and we won’t get an answer by prayin’ on it.

As you might have predicted, slimy ol’ Enyart declared victory, because of course he did. To a creationist, saying “I don’t know” is the same as saying “God done did it”.

Well, now Fred Williams has announced that Enyart is dead.

It comes with an extremely heavy heart that my close friend and co-host of Real Science Radio has lost his battle with Covid. Bob Enyart was one of the smartest, and without question the wisest person I’ve known. All the while being exceedingly kind and humble, and always, always willing to listen and discuss anything you wanted. It was an honor beyond measure to have been alongside him for 15 years and over 750 science shows. I always marveled how Bob put up with me all those years together. 🙂 When we pre-recorded a show and he asked me to do a retake, I’m convinced that many times he would on purpose follow it with one of his own retakes just to make me feel better. The number of lives he touched is immeasurable and I’m sure Jesus has an extra special place for him in heaven. ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’.
I was with Bob at his last public appearance in mid August in San Antonio Texas for an ex-JW conference. What an incredible honor and great time we had! I fondly reflect on my journey with Bob, from watching his eye-opening TV show in the 90s, to meeting Bob at St John’s church for an Age of the Earth debate (RSR sells that debate and the old earth group doesn’t, in case you are wondering who won), to Bob asking me to join him in doing Real Science Radio, then 15 years of weekly radio shows, culminating in the conference in San Antonio. In between we had many lunches and dinners together, some Nuggets games tossed in, and so many other good times and fond memories. I also really loved Bob’s sense of humor! As an example, the theme of our presentation at the ex-JW conference was “dinosaur blood”, perhaps the greatest discovery of the century that destroys millions of years. During Q&A, Bob responded to a question and asked “what two words do you say when someone says the Earth is billions of years old?”. No one answered, including myself, so Bob turned to me and said “Fred, you’re fired!” (you can see this at 1:12:50 here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=4518764224820454&ref=watch_permalink).
Heaven’s gain has left an enormous hole here on earth. Bob’s enduring legacy will live on with the treasure trove he leaves behind, including an amazing website which many have recognized as the best online resource of science confirming the Genesis record, his captivating Bible study MP3s, science DVDs, YouTube videos, etc.
I miss my best friend and mentor. Please especially pray for Bob’s family.

It’s good that he admits that it was COVID-19 that killed him, but he doesn’t mention that part of their real science show, and a view held by the wisest person Williams knew, was actively, fanatically anti-vaccination and COVID-denialism from a guy who also taunted AIDS victims.

So Bob Enyart is dead. Fuck that guy.

We still have to address Kent Hovind’s nonsense? Why?

Aron Ra has a new YouTube series on “Supposed Lies in the Textbooks” which addresses some of the many ridiculous claims by Kent Hovind about what is taught in the science classroom. For a guy who claims to have been trained as an educator and to have taught grade school science, ol’ Kent sure has some stupid misconceptions. For instance, Aron slaps down this remarkable claim from Hovind about molecular homology:

The bones develop from different genes in different organisms. Evolutionists cannot explain this and seldom discuss it.

But that’s not at all true! For instance, the evil cat and I used the same, or homologous, genes to develop the hands I use to type with, and the clawed paws she uses to slash me with. All of the diverse limbs illustrated above use a similar set of genes to build their bony cores, modulated by the same Hox genes to establish the pattern, with subtle variation in the regulation of their morphogenetic properties. It’s simply a lie that limb bones develop from different genes in different organisms, which is why biologists don’t discuss it.

Yet there are still people who treat Hovind as a reliable source — I know of several local churches here in West Central Minnesota who are happy to show kids those videos. I guess that’s why some of us are still trapped in the endless morass of having to explain that a liar lies.

AiG thinks incest is just fine, after all

At their Creation “Museum” and at the Ark Park, Answers in Genesis does have displays justifying all the incest in the Bible — everyone was less corrupted by the Fall back then, you know. So an editor publishing an article in a journal he edits, run by his employer, is perfectly fine, I guess.

The article below is from Dan Phelps, who happens to be a real geologist.


Today I received a press-release (provided below) for a paper published by Answers in Genesis’s geologist, Dr. Andrew Snelling. The paper claims, among many other things, that certain rocks in the Grand Canyon were folded before they were lithified (turned to rock) and this “proves” the rocks formed recently in Noah’s Flood of 2348 BC. This is total nonsense. I read the paper, which includes much extraneous material that appears to be present to impress AiG’s supporters rather than to convince geologists. The paper presents sundry creationist claims about radiometric decay as if they were widely-accepted when they are not considered such outside of Young Earth Creationist (YEC) circles. The paper concludes that the rocks in question formed during the “global Genesis Flood cataclysm about 4,350 years ago” This paper is, in reality, a parody of a scientific paper, designed to impress non-scientists.

Note that the paper is published in AiG’s own “journal” (Answers Research Journal) which Snelling, himself, is THE editor. The instructions for authors of this self-published journal (below) are rather revealing. Papers are judged for publication based on their “biblical stand” and other religious criteria. Specifically, the instructions for authors states “The editor-in-chief will not be afraid to reject a paper if it does not properly satisfy the above criteria or if it conflicts with the best interests of AiG as judged by its biblical stand and goals outlined in its statement of faith.” This is, quite obviously, not what a real science journal would do. The paper was not submitted, to my knowledge, to a peer-reviewed journal such as Geological Society of America Bulletin, Geology, or any of a number of journals devoted to structural geology. If Answers in Genesis really wishes to convince the scientific community as to the validity of their claims, why is this? Wouldn’t impressing the scientific community with convincing arguments be more important than convincing laypeople and potential donors if AiG’s goals were honorable?

The claims that these rocks were soft when deformed have been presented by young earth creationists for a number of years and geologists find them laughable because of evidence to the contrary and creationist’s apparent ignorance of the dynamics of how folded rocks form. See for example a chapter on this very subject in the book Grand Canyon: Monument to an Ancient Earth. Available here: https://www.amazon.com/Grand-Canyon-Monument-Ancient-Earth/dp/0825444217

The press-release for the paper put out by AiG is found below.

Here are the instructions for authors of Answers Research Journal: https://assets.answersingenesis.org/doc/articles/research-journal/instructions-to-authors.pdf

See especially page 13:

Answers Research Journal’s instructions for authors-

“VIII. Paper Review Process

Upon the reception of a paper, the editor-in-chief will follow the procedures below: A. Notify the author of the paper’s receipt
B. Review the paper for possible inclusion into the ARJ review process
The following criteria will be used in judging papers:
1. Is the paper’s topic important to the development of the Creation and Flood model?
2. Does the paper’s topic provide an original contribution to the Creation and Flood model?
3. Is this paper formulated within a young-earth, young-universe framework?
4. If the paper discusses claimed evidence for an old earth and/or universe, does this paper offer a very constructively positive criticism and provide a possible young-earth, young-universe alternative?
5. If the paper is polemical in nature, does it deal with a topic rarely discussed within the origins debate?
6. Does this paper provide evidence of faithfulness to the grammatical-historical/normative interpretation of Scripture? If necessary, refer to the following: R. E. Walsh, 1986. “Biblical Hermeneutics and Creation.” In Proceedings First International Conference on Creationism, vol. 1, 121–127. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Creation Science Fellowship.
Remark:
The editor-in-chief will not be afraid to reject a paper if it does not properly satisfy the above criteria or if it conflicts with the best interests of AiG as judged by its biblical stand and goals outlined in its statement of faith. The editors play a very important initial role in preserving a high level of quality in the ARJ, as well as protecting AiG from unnecessary controversy and review of clearly inappropriate papers.”

Here is the press release AiG issued today.

Creation Scientist’s Ground-Breaking Research at Grand Canyon Published

4-Year Study Helps Confirm Rapid Formation of the Canyon’s Layers by Massive Flooding

Petersburg, Kentucky, June 23, 2021 – A bedrock belief of evolutionary geologists has been convincingly undermined today with the publication of ground-breaking Grand Canyon research conducted by geologist Dr. Andrew Snelling of Answers in Genesis (AiG).

A scientist with the highest credentials, Dr. Snelling spent more than four years studying layers in the walls of Grand Canyon in Arizona, especially where those rock layers are not lying flat but are folded. Dr. Snelling, a creationist, has just released his stunning findings in the peer-reviewed Answers Research Journal. His research helps confirm a rapid formation of those massive Canyon layers and contradicts the belief that they were formed over millions of years, as is commonly accepted by geologists. His in-depth paper can be found at https://answersingenesis.org/geology/rock-layers/petrology-tapeats-sandstone-tonto-group/.

Throughout Grand Canyon, thick rock layers appear which are smoothly bent (some close to being at a right angle—see photo). Dr. Snelling observes: “Normally, solid rock cannot bend without breaking, so this leaves only two options for bending: either the rock layer was bent while still soft, shortly after being deposited by water, or after the layer had fully hardened, it was bent by pressures which made the rock plastic, like playdough. Geologists who believe the layers were laid down over millions of years accept the latter option.”

Dr. Snelling points out that for hardened rock to bend without breaking, it must undergo metamorphic changes in its mineral content as well as its structure, including at the microscopic level. At the outset of his research, his question was: is there any evidence of the hard rock in the bent layers being metamorphosed?

Dr. Snelling examined samples from two prominent folds in Grand Canyon. His research concluded: “By comparing the Tapeats Sandstone samples from the folds with other Tapeats Sandstone samples located far from the folds, no metamorphism has occurred. Therefore, our four-year research project confirms that these rock layers were bent while they were still soft, after rapid deposition.” Dr. Snelling also concludes: “This is tremendous evidence that the Canyon’s rock layers were laid down during a massive flood and subsequently bent before any of the layers had hardened.” Dr. Snelling suggests this evidence is consistent with the effects of Noah’s flood and its aftermath.

The “uniformitarian” argument—namely, that the layers of rock (or “strata”) at huge canyons like Grand Canyon were laid down over millions of years—has been powerfully challenged by this seminal study of rocks Dr. Snelling personally collected inside the folds of the canyon.

The quandary now for those who argue for millions of years for the canyon’s layering is: how could these hard layers, which were bent supposedly 450 million years after they formed, not shatter during the bending process? Dr. Snelling declares: “Observational science tells us that rock layers must be soft when they fold. But over the supposed 450 million years, how could they possibly have remained soft until they were then bent?”

Ken Ham, CEO and founder of AiG, states: “Dr. Snelling’s monumental research confirms what should be obvious to all geologists: such folds must have been formed relatively quickly before the thick rock layers hardened. It’s a major blow to long-age geologic thinking.”

Dr. Snelling, with an earned doctorate in geology from one of the world’s leading institutions, the University of Sydney, had long recognized that more creationist research in geology was needed to explain the formation of the massive layers exposed in canyon systems around the world—and whether they could be explained catastrophically (e.g., massive flooding) as opposed to the dogma of uniformitarian long-age thinking. (The arguments for a global flood, including from Dr. Snelling’s decades of research, are presented at AiG’s attractions, the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum.)

The evolutionists’ story about the formation of Grand Canyon in Arizona is that the rock layers at the Canyon were laid down over very long ages. Then the Canyon was carved through them over millions of years by the slow erosive powers of the Colorado River. Because of their dogmatic thinking, officials and academics associated with Grand Canyon National Park tried to prevent Dr. Snelling from conducting this study, expressing disdain in emails about his religious and creationist beliefs. In 2017, international media reported that Dr. Snelling finally received the research permits he had first requested from the park in 2014 so that he could continue his field work inside the canyon. Presented with the clear-cut, documented evidence of an anti-Christian bias in the permits’ denial, the Departments of Justice and the Interior agreed; the Grand Canyon National Park changed course and issued Dr. Snelling’s research permits.

Ham hailed Dr. Snelling’s research: “This scientist with top credentials has offered powerful new evidence of the rapid formation of Grand Canyon’s layers during the global flood of Noah’s day followed by the canyon’s quick formation. His superb work exemplifies AiG’s ongoing original research, conducted by full-time PhD scientists from renowned institutions who have published in leading science journals. Our faculty also work in other fields such as genetics, paleontology, and astronomy to help confirm the Genesis account of origins as well as Noah’s flood.”
Research Background

Dr. Snelling collected rock samples on a research trip through the Grand Canyon in August 2017 in order to investigate the nature of the folding of strata in the Canyon. Dr. Snelling stated: “The Tapeats Sandstone is a formation 30-100 meters thick that prominently outcrops through the walls of Grand Canyon for about 500 kilometres. Erosion of the underlying Precambrian basement rocks produced what’s well-known in geological circles as the ‘The Great Unconformity,’ upon which the Tapeats Sandstone was deposited. The Great Unconformity, in fact, has been traced across several continents.”

Dr. Snelling added: “The mineralogical content, textural features, sedimentary structures, continental-scale deposition, paleocurrent directions matching continental patterns, and even the tracks and traces of transitory invertebrates, all indicate rapid burial and are consistent with the catastrophic erosion of the Great Unconformity near the initiation of the global Genesis flood cataclysm, only about 4,350 years ago.”

Dr. Snelling is a member of eight professional geology groups. One of his prior research projects included a study at the Koongarra uranium deposit in Australia. Dr. Snelling is also the author of the two-volume Earth’s Catastrophic Past and hundreds of articles on geology. Several more articles are to come on Dr. Snelling’s original research at Grand Canyon.

To read Dr. Snelling’s research paper, visit: https://answersingenesis.org/arj.

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics (i.e., Bible-affirming) ministry based in northern Kentucky. Its Ark Encounter opened in 2016 and features a 510-foot-long Noah’s ark. West of the Cincinnati Airport and next to the AiG headquarters, the Creation Museum has also become a major family attraction. Both venues are experiencing huge crowds this month, with some record-setting days.

Islamic apologist triumphs by revising history!

You could have guessed that this would be coming. I had a discussion/debate with some Muslim creationists a few months ago; they tried to convince me that somehow the Qu’ran is free of error and that the trivial bit of embryology in their holy book was just fine, that Mohammed got everything right. They did not convince me. As I said repeatedly, the two sentences in the Qu’ran that describe the sequence of events in human development was so shallow and vague to be useless, and that their idea that development begins with bones that are subsequently covered with flesh is incorrect. You know, this bit:

We created man from an essence of clay, then We placed him as a drop of fluid in a safe place. Then We made that drop of fluid into a clinging form, and then We made that form into a lump of flesh, and We made that lump into bones, and We clothed those bones with flesh, and later We made him into other forms. Glory be to God the best of creators.

Do we really need to go around and around on this subject? The Qu’ran is not a biology textbook. It has a few terse and biologically inadequate lines early human embryology, yet some Muslims try to claim the book was presciently aware of the conclusions of modern science. It wasn’t. The author was simply dimly aware of ideas that were common in the 8th century. If you think your faith is dependent on the deep factual nature of those few sentences, your faith is in trouble.

Well looky here, though. One of the guys in that discussion, Nadir Ahmed, came out with a video today that puts words in my mouth and tries to distort my position. It’s titled “PZ Myers set the record straight – NO scientific error in the Quran”.

Somehow, my agreeing that Mohammed was as correct about embryology as Galen is an admission that the Qu’ran is scientifically accurate. And even more, that I was wrong before, and have now wised up enough to agree with Islamic creationist position! Mr Ahmed says:

They now need to revise their position. They need to be honest with people, and they need to say PZ Myer no longer holds this position, that the Qu’ran is in error with science with regards to flesh and bones being created at the same time. But something tells me that those people who spun this information, they’re not going to do that.

That is incorrect. I will still say the the Qu’ran is in error scientifically. I left a comment saying so.

You are incorrect. The Qu’ran is wrong, as was Galen and Aristotle.
The story in the verse is simply warmed over Galen/Aristotle, diluted to the point of meaninglessness.

I still hold the position that Qu’ran is in error, so it’s rather dishonest of you to claim I’ve changed my mind.

If you’d like to quote me as saying “The Qu’ran contains scientific inaccuracies,” feel free to do so. If you want to “quote” me as saying “I no longer believe the Qu’ran is wrong about human development”, well, you’re just a damned liar.

So Ahmed emailed me asking for a clarification.

Hi PZ –
I just read your comment on my video.
I have temporarily removed it till I
can get some clarification from you.

You mentioned you still believe there
is a error in the Quran, but you never
explained what is that error.

Can you please let us know?

My reply:

My views have not changed since I wrote this: https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/11/23/islamic-embryology-overblown-b/
The qu’ran is simply a vague echo of ideas that were common during Mohammed’s lifetime, and they are even fuzzier and less specific than something directly from Aristotle or Galen. The only thing different is that now you’re claiming that the chronology, the sequence of “We made” statements, is not a chronology at all. If anyone has changed their mind, it’s you trying to modify your interpretation of the Qu’ran to fit modern conceptions.

I should have added, though, that if he wants to argue that there is no chronology implied in the verse, that my comment in the previous video that the idea of a progression of changes in human development was one positive interpretation, well then, I was wrong about that. Apparently the Qu’ran argues that embryos were poofed into existence with bones fully clothed in muscle, which is also wrong.

Ahmed wrote back:

Thank you for the clarification. Let’s work together to fix this.

I will concede to your point that we should not modify our interpretations to
fit modern conceptions. Therefore I will not claim this verse predicts modern
scientific fact… and inform others.

I will concede to your point that the verse is to vague and ambiguous to even
make such a claim. That being said, it is also to vague and ambiguous to
claim error with documented scientific fact.

Sounds good to you?

I’d rather not have my name used in Islamic propaganda.

No. I’d rather you simply did not use my name to promote the accuracy of a medieval book. The Qu’ran is lacking in any insight that you might use to justify any divine input into its words.

I gave him the last word.

Of course, your name can only be used to discredit the medieval book, as it has all over the internet.
This will conflict with your polemical aspirations. The problem here is that you wear 2 hats –
one as a scientist and one as a Atheist polemicist.

I have conceded a lot to you, more so than my Muslim apologist job allows me to.
My concessions will allow devout believers to start to envisioning a human origin of the Quran.

Now, I need to push back a little. The video posted does not promote Islamic apologetics –
I conceded your borrowing views to be very possible, and I did not defend the miracle claim.

I will repost the video, and I will delete your comment because I do not want to trigger a back and forth debate with you
on this contradiction – a verse deemed to be too vague and ambiguous to describe modern scientific fact,
is now being used to absolutely contradict modern science. Please also keep in mind, for any scientific error claim, we are demanding
peer reviewed scientific literature to back up the scientific claim, failure to do so, will be viewed as pseudoscience.

This will catch the eyes of others – keep in mind, if you walk in a mosque and ask why the Quran
contradicts science, the Imam will snugly reply those people try to find vague and ambiguous verses
and try to create a controversy. Now those Imams have firm confirmation.

I can’t quite imagine myself walking into a mosque to demand scientific answers — as I’ve said a few times now, they won’t be able to provide them. I’ll also point out that my original commentary on Islamic embryology was not in a mosque, but outside a hotel in Dublin (where they did have Guinness on tap, which I suppose does make it a kind of holy place), and that the only people trying to create controversy were the iERA evangelists who were confronting me. I was just answering their questions.

I am now wondering how many of the “quotes” from Dr Keith L. Moore that professed a respect for the science in the Qu’ran were made up or distorted by the apologists, since they’ll even tell me to my face that I made concessions to the Qu’ran that I simply did not and do not do. I now have firm confirmation that Islamic creationists will freely lie, after all.

Answers in Genesis is bad Christianity

Never trust this liar

Several years ago, Terry Mortenson spoke at a church here in Morris, and I attended along with several students. It was somewhat entertaining for me, because he lied and misrepresented evolution non-stop, and it was hilarious to look over at the UMM contingent and see all the jaws dropping open, unbelieving that anyone would be this blatantly dishonest. But then, if it’s Answers in Genesis, it’s always bullshit.

Now I’m amused again. Ken Ham is shocked and horrified that one of Mortenson’s speeches prompted a rebuke — he had been told afterwards that his homophobia is unwelcome, as was his unscientific stance on the age of the earth. Yikes. How dare anyone point out that the grand poobahs of Ken Ham’s bizarre cult are hateful and ignorant!

But the worst part, to Ham’s silly brain, is that the person who chastised the official position of his narrow understanding of literalist creationism was … the church’s pastor!!!

In various ways, AiG has been deplatformed by organizations too. This makes many people quite frustrated, angry, and upset. But do you know what is much more upsetting? When AiG is “deplatformed” by a church! And what issues do you think might cause this “deplatforming”? Well, LGBTQ and the age of the earth/universe issues! And actually, I assert that as a result the church itself has been “deplatformed” by the pastor as he is denying people the teaching they need on Genesis. OK, that’s a lot to take in. So let me share with you what happened to our speaker Dr. Terry Mortenson, who was “deplatformed.” Here is Terry’s report in his own words:

So what exactly did Mortenson say? It wasn’t subtle.

Sunday morning [Grace Point Church, Bentonville, AR, on Jan. 17, 2021], I gave a message on the “relevance” of Genesis, similar to what Ken Ham and all our speakers present for a first presentation in a church. I explained that Genesis 1–11 is foundational to the rest of Scripture and showed that the acceptance of millions of years and evolution undermines the Bible’s teaching on sin, marriage, death, the gospel, and morality. With respect to marriage, after quoting Jesus in Matthew 19:4–6, I said that adultery, fornication, pornography, homosexuality, and transgenderism are all wrong because they are contrary to God’s created order and commands.

Well, good for Grace Point Church of Bentonville, AR! It’s about time more churches pointed out that Ham and his ilk aren’t at all representative of the majority of Christians, although they like to shriek that they should be (it’s like how the organization One Million Moms is actually just a handful of prigs). Ham even admits it that he’s part of a tiny minority.

Sadly, the majority of Christian leaders compromise Genesis in some way.

Sadly, Grace Point Church is not without flaw: they invited Mortenson in the first place and, although they admit that the Earth is old, the dislike evolution and want it to not be true. I guess it is a major step forward when they are speaking out against homophobia, at least.

I’m also happy to see a smug obnoxious twit like Mortenson getting slapped down. Maybe progress in greater tolerance will have the added benefit of breaking AiG someday.

I remembered Paul Nelson Day this year!

It helped to have all these people emailing me reminders in advance.

Paul Nelson Day, for you blessed souls who are unaware, is the day we commemorate the failure of a fellow of the Discovery Institute to follow through on his claims. Nelson actually presented a poster at a genuine scientific meeting, the Society for Developmental Biology, in which he proposed a novel metric he called “Ontogenetic Depth”, which supposedly measured the complexity of a lineage or something, producing numbers which he was certain spelled the doom of evolutionary theory. He even had a student, he said, measuring the ontogenetic depth of various species. Data? What? A creationist with data? I had to know how this worked. If I had his protocol, I’d even be willing to try to apply it to my organisms. You know, independent replication.

He was a bit dodgy about his methods, though, and they weren’t on the poster, and he promised to get back to me with a paper in a few days. A few weeks. A few months. A few years. It’s been 16 years now. No paper. Lots of handwaving.

I think we can safely say that ontogenetic depth is dead, and abandoned by its creator. It ought to be an embarrassing failure for Paul Nelson, but creationists never fail, they just bounce on to another delusion.

Paul Nelson has now invented another pseudo-sciencey phrase: Design Triangulation. Oh boy. Behe struck gullibility gold with the two-word mantra, “irreducible complexity”, that every creationist fool loved, because it was two long words that they thought made them sound clever…but it’s an empty claim, and IC has crumbled under even the most casual gaze. They also jumped on the “Design Theory” bandwagon, which fails because there is no Design Theory — it’s a mask over the words “God did it”. Nelson tried to get lightning to strike twice with “Ontogenetic Depth”, which also flopped. His mistake was promising something measurable and testable, which he wasn’t able to do.

Now it’s “Design Triangulation”. What is it? I don’t know. This time he apparently decided to start by writing out a thorough explanation — we weren’t going to be able to ask him to provide a paper he didn’t write this time!

Except…

He seems to have written it in PowerPoint — big loud fonts, lots of colors, assertion after assertion, lots of bold claims, clearly he’s thinking he needs to make a splashy, flashy argument. There’s one thing missing, though: data. There is no data in the document. There is lots of sniping at evolutionary theory, which they don’t understand, and bogus arguments about probabilities.

It’s also 243 pages long.

I read the whole thing. It claims to be “Sketches for a Method of Design-Enabled Biological Research”, which sounds familiar — he claimed Ontogenetic Depth was a “method”, too. I read it with an eye towards picking out what bits had utility in research. Give me one thing I could use in a lab or in the field, one thing that could give me a discrete result. It’s not there. Instead, there’s a lot of noise of the sort that gives philosophy (bad philosophy) a bad name among working biologists. It’s tortured philosophy. It’s philosophy abuse. It’s the sort of thing that makes scientists and respectable philosophers scream in pain. It goes on and on, never coming to a point, never providing anything concrete. Like a lot of creationists, Nelson is constantly getting distracted into tedious railing against evolution, asserting that evolution is impossible, and never ever saying anything specific about his magical chant of “Design Triangulation”, which he mentions multiple times but never defines.

I thought I’d illustrate this article with a catchy slide from his overlong presentation, but there aren’t any. Yeah, he steals some lovely biological examples so he can say they couldn’t possibly have evolved, and he’s got a bit about Michael Lynch pointing out that there’s more to the evolutionary process than natural selection (which is not the problem for evolutionary theory that Nelson imagines it to be), and lots of wordy babbling about philosophy, but nothing that captures the guts of Design Triangulation. So the best I can do is give you the culmination of his presentation, the one image he’d leave with those viewing it:

That’s it. Design Triangulation is just…Design. There is no method given, as promised in the subtitle of the file. If you like the fantasy of Design and Designer(s), you’ll lap this crap up — Nelson knows his audience. If you expect some intelligent criticism and useful methodology, you won’t see it at all, because Nelson isn’t writing for you. You aren’t the kind of rubes who’d fall for pompous verbiage and empty promises.

It’s perfectly fitting for Paul Nelson Day!

A defense of Adnan Oktar

It’s not a very good defense, but Oktar’s allies have put together a long, long series of webpages trying to argue that Oktar was railroaded — I link to it here in the interests of fairness, although I don’t believe any of it. The core of their claim is that evidence against him was illegally obtained (probably true, in part — I don’t think Erdogan’s government respects the idea of justice — and that he was not part of a criminal organization, but rather, they were just an open-minded circle of friends, which I do not believe for an instant. It was, maybe is, a cult, with Oktar at the top. There was a tremendous flow of money through his organization that allowed him to create international conferences and publish books of propaganda that he sent around the world.

Also, most strangely, throughout the defense they assert that the accused are all well-off, from wealthy families, therefore they couldn’t possibly be guilty of criminal activities! Yeah, right. For instance, one set of charges is that Oktar was a sexual abuser, and several of the women (the ones he called “kittens”) stepped forward to testify against him. This can’t be!

The women who claim to have been sexually abused are well-educated and capable of expressing themselves very well; among them are a doctor of medicine, even a lawyer. None of them are people who would remain silent in the face of harassment that continues for years. They are not people who can be made to comply with such a thing with various suggestions either, because they are of high socio-cultural levels, have university degrees, they are not ignorant. There is no question of corrupting their will through various explanations.

Women of high socio-cultural levels can’t be victimized, I guess, and can’t possibly be persuaded to submit to an oppressive influence. Except, of course, when the police pressure them to turn on Adnan Oktar, then their will can be quickly corrupted.

They are also the victims of a conspiracy by orthodox Muslims to destroy Oktar’s liberal, enlightened organization. Let’s not forget that this was an organization dedicated to an anti-science position, promoting creationism, with a creepy collection of women made up to look like dolls and recite the writings of Adnan Oktar. Liberal, it wasn’t. OK, maybe it was liberal compared to fundamentalist Islamic clerics, but that isn’t saying much.

But I do think the defense has a point when they bring up the magnitude of the arrests. The Turkish police rounded up everyone in a massive sweep.

Through this scheme, Adnan Oktar and 200 of his friends, men and women who have no past convictions, and are university graduates from respectable families, were collected from their homes in totality, kept in police custody for eight days under very harsh circumstances and then sent to prison.This court case has been underway for 2 years in Turkey, with a number of violations of international human rights and the Turkish Constitution.

This is a very unique case with 226 defendants, 167 of whom were detained for a term of 17 months until December 2019, when 91 of the defendants (including 3 lawyers), and 4 more in February 2020, were released by the court, which ruled to execute judicial control measures of an “international travel ban” and “ban to leave the house” (house arrest) for all. 78 defendants, including Adnan Oktar, are still in Silivri High-Security Prison, Istanbul.

I’d add that a sentence of 1,075 years is excessive and vindictive for someone who was a non-violent offender (although he did have a cache of guns, so maybe there’s more to that). If you want to make a case that Turkish justice is brutal and unfair, I’d be receptive. Trying to argue that Adnan Oktar was just one of a casual circle of friends who promoted enlightenment ideals…well, that’s just bullshit and you’ve gone too far.

Also, although as an American I shouldn’t complain about corrupt prison systems, Silivri High-Security Prison isn’t exactly the kind of white-collar country club prison where you can do easy time.

According to creationists, every science is false

Remember what right-wing Christians mean when they talk about “academic freedom”. They really mean freedom from standards.

Here’s a letter from a Christian who is still indignant that the Institute for Creation Research was denied the right to hand out science degrees over ten years ago.

It is fitting to reflect and contemplate the future ramifications following events of significance. One such event transpired shortly after this author applied for admission to the Institute for Creation Research Graduate School (ICRGS). The school was established in 1981 with a unique purpose in providing graduate-level education in fields of science that are particularly relevant to the study of biblical apologetics. Its former graduates earned Master of Science degrees in Science Education, Astrophysics/ Geophysics, Biology, Geology, and General Science,1 and many are now teaching or participating in Christian ministries in various communities.

As a Christian educator, I felt that formal education from one of the world’s leading creation science ministries would serve me well as an important augmentation to the graduate degrees already earned from secular universities. However, only four days after my application was submitted, the board of directors of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) voted to close the doors of the ICRGS indefinitely, effective 30 June 2010. The board reached this painful decision after a long legal battle with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board that ultimately resulted in a ruling against ICR and the end of this important educational institution.

He makes a long defense of the ICR, but somehow cannot say outright that the organization teaches as a conclusion that the Earth is less than ten thousand years old. This is a telling omission: their fundamental assumptions are so ridiculous that they dare not say them aloud, choosing instead to claim failings by real sciences that are not there. He cannot defend the process by which the ICR reaches their conclusions, and therefore tries to take them off the table. We’re going to play word games, instead.

For the ICRGS, the quality of education was never the issue, but rather the creation content within the curriculum. The THECB declared that the ICR Grad School program could not be called “science” because it was based on the creation model rather than evolution. To keep creation science and intelligent design out of the classroom, it is often argued that they do not qualify as science. Often the definitions used for such purposes are arbitrarily established to exclude other worldviews and frequently too stringent, also inadvertently ruling current or historic inquiry as unscientific.

The “creation model” is false. It doesn’t work. It was invented in the last century to paper over a primitive literalist interpretation of the Bible, and it’s so indefensible that the only thing he can do is claim real science is also false, therefore creationism has equal standing.

In the 1981 case of McLean vs Arkansas, the judgment defined the essential characteristics of science as being guided by natural law; explanatory by natural law; testable; tentative; and falsifiable. Anti-creationists have added additional requirements, such as Michael Ruse and Eugenie Scott who stated that science deals only with what is repeatable and can be subjected to testing. By such definitions archaeology does not qualify as science, since it is instead a search for intelligent agents rather than material causes. In a historical context, the hard sciences like physics or chemistry also cannot be reduced to these definitions. Much of the early developments of science were not guided by or explained by existing laws or known natural processes.

Archaeology is repeatable, testable, and makes hypotheses that can be criticized and evaluated. Ask an archaeologist! They have strong principles for evaluating evidence, and have arguments that are resolved by going back into the field and collecting empirical observations. That they recognized that intelligent agents, that is, human beings, are part of the process of historical change is not a criterion for rejecting the discipline as a science. Humans are real. They can be observed. We can see the consequences of their actions. So, studying them can be done scientifically.

My physics and chemistry friends are going to be surprised to learn that what they do doesn’t count as science, but going to church does.

That early science was built on guesswork and assumptions does not mean they were somehow unscientific. Our understanding was hammered out of chaos — people made hypotheses about nature, tested them, and re-evaluated their ideas until they conformed better and allowed better predictions about the natural world. Yes? That’s not a strike against science. It’s also the case that we don’t know exactly how life arose, so we make hypotheses about chemical possibilities, and go into the lab, or collect organisms from obscure places like deep sea vents, and test those ideas. That’s what science is!

These exclusionary definitions are especially problematic when we consider the many areas of science that attempt to explain one-time historical events, such as the big bang, the origin of life or biological processes. None of these hypothetical scenarios were observed, nor are they repeatable, allowing testing in any adequate manner. All attempts to reproduce the conditions that gave birth to the first cell have failed. In reality, such events fall well outside the statistical realm of possibilities and contrary to the known laws of science (2nd law of thermodynamics). Experiments in these areas of historical science are based on philosophically derived faith in unseen and unobservable processes.

He doesn’t understand the concept of repeatability, does he? No, we can’t fire off another Big Bang in the basement of the physics building. But we can study the properties of matter and energy and try to understand how they could have arisen. We can build colliders and see how tiny bits of matter interact. We can also observe consequences — the Big Bang theory didn’t arise out of some guy reading one sentence of a holy book and inflating it into a textbook worth of glurge. Instead, it was derived from seen and observed astronomical processes.

It’s telling that when their beliefs, based entirely on flawed interpretations of an extremely limited and internally contradictory text, are questioned, they choose to lash out and whine petulantly that physics, chemistry, biology, and archaeology aren’t real sciences, anyway. It’s kind of pathetic.

I’ll tell you what the ICR doesn’t qualify as science, and it’s simple. Are you free to question the accuracy of your source material? Do you get to revise your interpretation of the evidence to conform to the observable facts? Or are you required to hold certain tenets of faith?

All things in the universe were created and made by God in the six literal days of the creation week described in Genesis 1:1–2:3, and confirmed in Exodus 20:8-11. The creation record is factual, historical, and perspicuous; thus, all theories of origins or development that involve evolution in any form are false. All things that now exist are sustained and ordered by God’s providential care. However, a part of the spiritual creation, Satan and his angels, rebelled against God after the creation and are attempting to thwart His divine purposes in creation.

Case closed. Asserting your conclusion in the absence of evidence, and in defiance of any possible evidence, is anti-science.