Sunday, April 08, 2007

Truly, You Have a Dizzying Intellect

Words fail me...Some idiot named Chuck Missler makes what has got to be the stupidest anti-evolution argument I, personally, have ever heard. The weird thing about these Creationism/Intelligent Design advocates is their hideous confusion about the VERY BASIC scientific underpinnings of the Theory of Evolution.



See, I am no scientist. In fact, I was never very good at science. I find biology fascinating, and enjoy reading about it, but I'm bad at math and am generally out of my element in studying hard science. Words and conceptual ideas were always more my forte than the complex formulas, cycles and chemical equations of the Life Sciences.

But anyone capable of taking a high-school biology exam could explain to this douchebag why his little peanut butter "experiment" is deeply, deeply flawed. For those of you not bothering to watch that 2 minute clip (it's worth it...trust me...), the guy attempts to disprove evolution by opening a vacuum-sealed jar of peanut butter.

See, evolutionists believe that, occasionally, the combination of energy and matter will create new life. But experience tells us that dead matter will never spawn new life. Therefore, evolution is wrong.

Missler is just confused. He has actually disproved Spontaneous Generation, which has been disproved already, over and over again, throughout the history of Biology. (If I recall 9th grade science correctly, Louis Pasteur famously debunked the theory.) In fact, near as I can tell, the exact origin point of life from non-life isn't really a major focal point of evolutionary science. Rather, it's the study of how life progressed from single-celled organisms to the complex forms we have come to know and love.

My point is not that Missler's wrong. He's obviously, OBVIOUSLY wrong. (And what's with his constant insistance that evolution is wrong because the FOOD INDUSTRY says so. Why should we trust what the food industry thinks more than scientists, professors and other experts? The food industry thought Lunchables and New Coke were awesome ideas.)

My point is that ANYONE could tell that Missler's wrong, including young children and particularly attentive housecats. Either he knows what he's saying is ridiculous, and just hopes to win over one or two lunkheads, or he's just an extremely silly person. It's amazing he's capable of operating a video camera or, failing that, convincing someone who knows how to operate a video camera to assist him.

9 comments:

D said...

re: Chuck Missler and peanut butter

I am a creationist fundie to the right of Missler (if you can believe it) but I have found many things to disagree with him on. This clip, however, is not one of them. You misunderstood his point, but that was not your fault. It was his fault for not being clearer.

Missler's point - and it is a valid one - is that the elements of matter necessary for life are found in a jar of peanut butter. The exposure of that matter to energy SHOULD, hypothetically, result in newly living peanut butter. That's his only point, tho it was not as clear as it might have been.

I think the corpse of a dead animal or human would be more apt than P.B. All the necessary chemicals one needs for life are right there in one tidy package...we know this because it was already once alive. All it SHOULD take (if materialists are correct) is the introduction of the right kind/amount of energy to animate it, since that's supposedly what happened way back when in the first place. Again, that was Missler's point but he wasn't as clear in making it as other times I've heard him speak.

Ta,

D

PS Using corpses or peanut butter to make this illustration is hardly absurd, since materialists themselves claim that it was inert minerals (rock and soil) that sprung to life life under the influence of lightning, cosmic rays, what have you. So let's not start throwing the absurd rock around while still indoors.

Lons said...

No, D, I'm sorry...but it is patently absurd. You do not have a keen grasp on high school biology. Now, that's an okay thing...so long as you are willing to learn.

I'm not really the one to teach you, as I have a tenuous grasp on all things scientific myself, but I can say that the entire argument is based on some fundamental misunderstandings.

The environment inside a jar of peanut butter does not exactly replicate the conditions in which scientists suggest life may have started on Earth. Not even close.

Your contention that "all the necessary chemicals one needs for life are right there in one tidy package" is the problem. Scientists are fairly certain about the composition of the atmosphere back in the early early days of life on Earth, and it's nothing like the inside of a peanut butter jar, or anything else we can easily replicate in the modern era.

But EVEN IF THIS LUDICROUSNESS WERE SOMEHOW TRUE, what would it prove? That scientists are incapable of demonstrating exactly how life came about from not-life? Fine. But would that grant your far-fetched beliefs in Creator-Gods and Heavens above the Clouds and ribs plucked from one gender and given to another any more validity? Naturally, no, so why bother?

D said...

I didn't come here to argue, nor do I have need of you or anyone else to teach me so please put away the condescending tone.

For the record, I am a high school teacher; tho not of science, I do glance through their textbooks to see what ideologies lie therein. Second, I am pretty fairly well read and have a firm grasp on what materialists believe. Third, I was once a public school student and I can tell you from my own experience (yours may have differed) and from the present situation in schools that life coming from lifelessness - minerals - is exactly what is either taught or implied in public schools across the country. That's exactly the point Missler was making, albeit clumsily.

"Scientists are fairly certain about the composition of the atmosphere back in the early early days of life on Earth, and it's nothing like the inside of a peanut butter jar, or anything else we can easily replicate in the modern era."

But it's reduced down for us as to what they actually think happened, all technobabble aside:

Minerals in water recombined in such a way that, eventually, under the influence of an odd mix of gases and energy, it came to life.

Pardon my saying so but the universe being sneezed out of the nose of a giant space goat is about as believable.

"But EVEN IF THIS [p.b.] LUDICROUSNESS WERE SOMEHOW TRUE, what would it prove? That scientists are incapable of demonstrating exactly how life came about from not-life? Fine."

Glad to hear you admit it, but kids are being taught exactly that AS FACT; as if Almighty Science has proved so firmly how it happened that no one but the retarded or insane would dare question it. Those considered to be moderate in this view say, "Well, even if we can't say how life came about, WE KNOW THERE WAS NO SUPERNATURAL DEITY INVOLVED." Which leaves unanswered the obvious question: "If you can't say how life DID come about, how can you say with such certainty it DIDN'T? Science tell you that?" Such folks make me chuckle so I chuckle frequently because they're EVERYWHERE.

"But would that grant your far-fetched beliefs in Creator-Gods and Heavens above the Clouds and ribs plucked from one gender and given to another any more validity?"

Since you're mind appears firmly made up and impervious to paradigm shifts like the one I underwent years ago, I may waste calories typing this. But what they hey:

Since there's no third option, yes it does.

Incidentally, "Tale of the Magic Rock Apes" might be of interest to you, as I wrote it based on my experiences both as a student and as a teacher. You'll find it at my website.

Adios. Oh, right - sorry.

*apologies if this doubleposts - something happened the first time.

Lons said...

D, I'm sorry, but a few things you said just clued me in that you're out of your element here. I don't MEAN to sound condescending, but if I do, it's because I'm being forced to explain to you - an adult person who clearly has a reasonable intellect - the very very basic concepts of high school biology. This is a situation to which I am not accustomed, so if I proceed awkwardly, my apologies.

See, here's the rub. I strongly doubt that any teacher ever taught you in high school that inanimate minerals randomly became life or that the mysteries of how life came from not-life have been completely and sufficiently explained away by science. If they taught you this, then it was a flaw in your particular school, not in American Science Education as a whole.

Since there's no third option, yes it does.

What are you talking about? Because scientists admit that they can't fully explain away the exact combination of circumstances that caused the first single-celled organisms to arise...that means the Christian Bible is true? Are you so deeply committed to this belief that you can't honestly see the irrationality of that argument?

Just because I can't fully explain it doesn't mean you're right...it just means more research will be needed before I can fully explain it. 200 years ago, no one could adequately explain exactly how the sun worked, but it clearly did work. That didn't mean that any fool theory involving Thor and Zeus was correct.

dl said...

"I strongly doubt that any teacher ever taught you in high school that inanimate minerals randomly became life or that the mysteries of how life came from not-life have been completely and sufficiently explained away by science."

First, are you admitting a belief that living matter first arose from non-living matter?

Second, I don't care if you doubt me or not. It is true that some texts are silent on the subject of first causes, and start their lessons with life already existing. Others dodge and tapdance, admitting life had to start somewhere but admit to science's uncertainty. Still others - like one I had when I was in school in the early '80s - talk about how it rained for millions of years on rocks, and the minerals/soil eventually became alive.

Third, I'll gladly grant you that most scientists don't pretend science has "sufficiently explained away" the source of life. That is true. But SOME do, and some TEXTBOOK WRITERS do, too. They do it with such certainty that it's presented dogmatically as the ONLY POSSIBLE REASONABLE explanation for life, the universe and everything. They're out there - your denial of them shows either you're simply ignorant of them or you are lying. Whatever the case, I've read and heard them for myself, and it IS taught to children exactly that way even today.

"What are you talking about? Because scientists admit"

SOME scientists, not all.

"that they can't fully explain away the exact combination of circumstances that caused the first single-celled organisms to arise...that means the Christian Bible is true? Are you so deeply committed to this belief that you can't honestly see the irrationality of that argument?"

Find me a rational third option and I'll listen. Look, you're in more of a corner here than I am. Either it was all designed and created by Someone with the capacity for purpose, design and creation, or it all just happened by itself with no one behind it at all. Think: on their faces, which of those propositions is REALLY further from all the sensory evidences we have at our disposal?

"Just because I can't fully explain it doesn't mean you're right...it just means more research will be needed before I can fully explain it. 200 years ago, no one could adequately explain exactly how the sun worked, but it clearly did work. That didn't mean that any fool theory involving Thor and Zeus was correct."

You don't realize what a corner you're painting yourself into...bringing up Thor is cute but understanding the sun works is clearly not beyond our ability to learn - it is within the grasp of empirical (sensory, if you will) science. First Causes, however - where the first living cells came from and why is FOREVER outside the reach of empirical science. It is something beyond the reach of what we can see, hear or touch, therefore it is outside the realm of science and 200 years or 2,000 won't change that. You're hope that it can and someday will is your faith and your religion; just have the integrity to admit it!

PS The Bible is still the only reasonable explanation - not because of the Genesis account itself, since it really doesn't give us all the details we curious humans would like to have (I freely admit that). It's because of the internal proofs for the Scriptures which no other religion - no, not even the Norse - has going for it. You are familiar with them, are you not?

d said...

Incidentally: since you know what category I fit into, what are you? Atheist or atheist-lite (agnostic)? Do you claim to KNOW that no deity was required for life to begin? Or merely that it might have happened but you don't know either way? Genuinely curious and respectfully submitted,

d

Lons said...

Okay, well that's a lot of flailing around without actually saying anything. Believe what you want but NOTHING, NOTHING, about the Bible is "reasonable." It's a highly unreasonable book full of abstract mythology, contradictions and possibly allegorical flights of fancy. To call it a "reasonable" explanation for life as it is lived on Earth would be like calling "Alice in Wonderland" a reliable portrait of a child's life in the English countryside.

I said, and I say again, that merely because science does not have all the answers does not mean we should reject its findings completely. This is obvious. If a student gets 95% of the questions correct on a test, do we say that they are therefore ignorant of the subject being tested? Or do we say that they are almost perfect but in need of a bit of further study?

To make this case about the state of scientifiy inquiry is an "admission" of nothing. It yields absolutely zero ground to the side of fantasy/mythology/Biblical folklore. Just to be perfectly clear, I am granting your argument absolutely nothing. The fact that science does not EXPLAIN EVERYTHING in a manner that is complete enough to satisfy your desire for cosmic answers is certainly no evidence for the Christian Bible. You can insist that it is, and again, it's your right to believe what you want...but you surely must understand that to those on the outside of your particular, specific belief system, this is not a convincing line of rhetoric.

It just sounds like a lot of self-referential dithering. "It's proof because it's proved right here in the Bible which proves it and you don't have another, more satisfying and complete answer, sot it must be true." Yes, yes, and The Number 23 is the root of all evil in the universe. I think I've read that rambling pamphlet before.

This whole need for Scripture and evidence and theories about First Causes, D...it's juvenile. I wouldn't still be talking to you if I didn't feel like there was some intelligence behind your comments, so I feel badly about speaking to you in this kind of hectoring tone. I swear, it isn't my nature.

But to me, this need to focus on The Bible as EVIDENCE, as some kind of alternative to actual human knowledge...it shows that you're not ready to deal with the complex, mysterious and, in many ways, deeply unsatisfying reality of our place in the universe. We don't know everything, we never will, and it's cool...we don't have to make up silly stories that reliably explain it all away. It seems easier, but it's not - it's harder to live under a dogma than to not.

We can just be kinda smart and kinda ignorant at the same time and accept discoveries and insights as they come. It's not a perfect system, but that's kind of our lot in life. Isn't that enough, man? Seriously, can't that be enough? Or do you want to start a few more dizzyingly circular, highly questionable strategic little arguments meant to muddy the waters?

Lons said...

Oh, and as for the second question that I hadn't seen when I wrote the above comment, I'm an atheist. I'm certainly open to a lot of different ideas about the nature of reality, but I'm pretty certain that there's nothing out there resembling our contemporary Western notion of "God."

Now, usually when you get into these discussions, people make the definition of "God" so abstract that ANYONE could believe in it. Like, "God is the force in the world that's good" or "God is nature" or that sort of thing. Obviously, there are definitions that could be provided for God that also describe things I could potentially believe, so when I say I am an atheist, it's largely a rejection of a Judeo-Christian concept of a being named God.

dl said...

"contradictions"

Such as?

"I said, and I say again, that merely because science does not have all the answers does not mean we should reject its findings completely. This is obvious."

I never said or even suggested scientific findings should be rejected simply because science cannot provide all answers we might want. What I *did* say is that it is wrong to teach children that adults know SCIENTIFICALLY how a thing happened when that thing is forever outside the reach of science. You deny it, but I solemnly assure you that it is done EVERY SINGLE DAY in schools throughout the western world. Call it DOGMA, INDOCTRINATION, BRAINWASHING or RELIGION - they all fit - but it is NOT science.

"If a student gets 95% of the questions correct on a test, do we say that they are therefore ignorant of the subject being tested? Or do we say that they are almost perfect but in need of a bit of further study?"

Bad analogy, poor logic. The student in question is able to take the test, all of it, otherwise he/she wouldn't get a 95. We're talking about science here, which is deaf and blind to that which we cannot see, hear or touch. Once you get off that ground you're in the area of speculation, of hypothesis, and possibly theory if you figure out some way to test it repeatably and verifiably. That is not where we are when it comes to the genesis of life yet - I must say it again - that is what children are taught in schools, and that's why Missler used the pb analogy in the first place.

And you accuse me of circular logic. Where?

I asked you repeatedly for an reasonable alternative idea explaining where life came from. You've avoided answering that but I know why: you're clearly intelligent and thoughtful and you already know there isn't one. Science (true, empirical science) doesn't help there. Does that PROVE the Bible is correct in its account of creation? Given all the other internal proofs for the Bible - which I was ignorant of when I was your age ten years ago - well, Occam's Razor.

"We can just be kinda smart and kinda ignorant at the same time and accept discoveries and insights as they come."

I have no problem with that.

"It's not a perfect system, but that's kind of our lot in life. Isn't that enough, man? Seriously, can't that be enough?"

Yes, IF that's what YOU as an individual want to believe as your own personal religion. Fine! You have the freedom to do that.

But to mandate that it be taught to the children of others at taxpayer expense - regardless of what those children's parents believe, which IS happening whether you believe it or not - NO, it is NOT enough. You seem pretty fair-minded...am I unreasonable on that point? You don't want my religion taught exclusively in schools, and I agree with you that it should not. Is it unfair of me not to want yours taught in schools to the exclusion of all others, as is now frequntly the case? Honest: am I unreasonable on that?

"I'm certainly open to a lot of different ideas about the nature of reality, but I'm pretty certain that there's nothing out there resembling our contemporary Western notion of "God." Now, usually when you get into these discussions, people make the definition of "God" so abstract that ANYONE could believe in it. Like, "God is the force in the world that's good" or "God is nature" or that sort of thing. Obviously, there are definitions that could be provided for God that also describe things I could potentially believe, so when I say I am an atheist, it's largely a rejection of a Judeo-Christian concept of a being named God."

First, thanks for recognizing and avoiding the whole tedious "God as you define him/her/it" concept for the purpose of this chat. It's so annoying dealing with people whose god can be anything and everything, and so is really nothing except projections of themselves.

Second, when you qualify your statement of faith with "pretty certain," that sure makes you sound like an agnostic fence-rider, not a self-assured, confident atheist, y'know? Not a dig, just an observation.

But I'll take it as you deal it: what is it, specifically, that makes you pretty certain the God of the Bible does not exist? If you don't mind saying.

I ask because I have many hobbies, and one of them is to collect people's religious testimonies; to figure out what it is that makes a person believe whatever religion he or she calls their own...what their rationale is, what they feel they get out of it, how they'd defend it as being "the right religion" (all religions contradict the rest...in our case, one of us is wrong, or both of us are, but we can't both be correct), and if they can't defend it as "the right religion," why they'd bother hanging on to it at all.

Don't know about you but I enjoy speaking with you...when you cool off a bit you're actually pleasant. Thank you for allowing me to talk with you on your blog.