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Discovery Institute vs. Skeptoid: Round 2

by Brian Dunning, Feb 26 2009

A listened wrote recently to inform me that 980 KKMS, a Minneapolis-St. Paul based Christian radio station, brought on Dr. Jonathan Wells from the Discovery Institute, the nation’s leading proponent of Biblical Young Earth fundamentalism. They played several segments of my 2007 Skeptoid podcast How to Argue with a Creationist for Dr. Wells, and had him respond to it point by point. The web page is here and the free MP3 file is here.

I would like to rebut a few of the things Dr. Wells said. But first, I think it’s important to understand who Dr. Wells is and what he’s about. Now, there’s no way to do this without the appearance of an ad hominem attack, so all I can do is state that I’ve got nothing negative to say about him personally (I don’t know him personally) and nothing I say about him or his background should be construed to say anything about the accuracy of his scientific claims. We’ll take those on separately, on their own merit. Dr. Wells, if you read this, I honestly do not intend to offend or insult you personally, as that serves no constructive purpose. But a discussion of certain elements of your background is essential for our readers to understand where you’re coming from.

Dr. Wells strikes me as a very odd choice for a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, which is dedicated to pretty hardcore Christian conservatism — whether they would admit that or not, it’s clearly what they’re about. For one thing, he did time in Leavenworth as a conscientious objector. A lot of people would shake his hand and congratulate him for that. I might well myself. But how many Discovery Institute supporters would?

For another, he’s a member of the Unification Church, a follower of Korean Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Moonies, as they are popularly known, believe that the Reverend himself is the second coming of Christ; and again, I wonder how many of the Discovery Institute supporters approve of this belief. The Moonies paid for Wells’ first Ph.D. at Yale, which is in religious studies. They then paid for his second Ph.D. at Berkeley, in molecular and cell biology; which was, in his words, “To prepare myself for battle.” By his own statement, he went for a Ph.D. in biology specifically to better prepare himself to argue against it for religious reasons. And make no mistake, he did go through all the motions; even publishing a few legitimate papers (as required) in the course of his Ph.D. He now cites this background to defend his credibility as a scientist, which was, of course, the real reason the Moonies sent him to get it.

Without question, to any reasonable observer, his version of “doing science” is specifically and exclusively in support of promoting a religious agenda.

Finally, and perhaps most bizarre, is the testimony he gave at the 2005 hearings at the Kansas Board of Education about replacing science education with Creation stories. When asked how old he thought the Earth was, Wells answered:

I think the earth is probably four-and-a-half billion or so years old. But I’ll tell you this, I used to– I would have said, a few years ago, I’m convinced it’s four-and-a-half billion years old. But the truth is I have not looked at the evidence. And I have become increasingly suspicious of the evidence that is presented to me and that’s why at this point I would say probably it’s four-and-a-half billion years old, but I haven’t looked at the evidence.

This is from a man who has devoted his whole professional life to proving a Biblical Young Earth story by claiming that evolution doesn’t happen, and thus we are left only with a magical divine Creation as the only option. And the Discovery Institute’s senior fellow “hasn’t looked at the evidence.”

My assessment of Dr. Wells is that he is disingenuous about the way he makes his point. Because the facts are that:

  • He never says the Earth is young.
  • He never says that a magical divine Creation is the only option.
  • He never says the Bible is literally true.
  • He simply says evolution is not supported by scientific evidence.

To any person of reasonable intelligence, the only reason anyone would devote their entire professional life to a church-funded battle to disprove evolution is to bolster the church’s claims that the Bible is literally true. I don’t know, but I would bet, that Wells would answer “Hey, those are your words, not mine; I’m only saying there’s scientific doubt over evolution.”

And that’s why I assess him as disingenuous. If he wants my respect (which I’m sure he doesn’t care about) he would be a stand-up guy and come straight out and admit his beliefs and his agenda. They are obvious anyway, so the only thing he gains by distancing himself from them is the appearance of intellectual dishonesty.

OK, so enough of my statements about Dr. Wells, his background, and why I think he brings an obvious agenda to the table. Let’s get to his radio interview.

Now, for the sake of brevity, I’m going to have to do extensive paraphrasing here. If anyone feels that my paraphrasing of Dr. Wells is inaccurate, I’ll happily update this post, so let me know.

CREATIONIST ARGUMENT: Evolution is just a theory, not a fact.

SKEPTOID: An attempt to discredit theories by suggesting that they are merely guesses or assumptions. The FACT of evolution is that species change over time, and the THEORY of evolution is our best explanation of how and why that happens. Fact and theory are different; you don’t graduate from one to the other.

DR. WELLS: “I don’t make this argument”, because it’s based on the assumption that species change over time, and this does not happen. We’ve never observed it. There are small changes within species, but one species has never evolved into another. Evolution is, in fact, merely a speculation.

Any professional biologist — and by that, I mean one who got his degree with the intention of actually learning something and becoming a contributor to the field — will be baffled by this claim. Many, many such cases have been directly observed. Someone in Dr. Wells’ position obviously has to have been exposed to this research, so you have to judge for yourself his honesty in answering this question. The literature is saturated with examples that are conclusively documented. In fact, you don’t even have to look any further than Talk Origins – the most obvious index of research that proves evolutionary theory – that Dr. Wells must be familiar with.

It’s very easy to make a blanket statement like “No species has ever evolved into another” when you’re on a friendly radio interview and there is no requirement to defend your statements (I know, because I enjoy the same freedom on my podcast; the difference is I report what the science supports). I would like to hear Dr. Wells discuss some of the specific examples with the researchers who were actually involved.

CREATIONIST ARGUMENT: Evolution is controversial; scientists disagree on its validity.

SKEPTOID: Creationists grossly mischaracterize the ongoing study over numerous minor points as disagreement over the validity of the theory as a whole. They love to publish lists of “scientists who disagree with evolution” — like their “Dissent from Darwin” list, 700 names out of 3.2 million Ph.D.s worldwide, or about 2 percent of 1 percent — and refer to this as widespread controversy.

DR. WELLS: Scientific consensus has often been wrong in history (cites a few Middle Ages examples). A growing number of scientists dispute common descent. Evidence is what counts; not popular opinion. “Darwinists” play word games: They get you to agree to evolution by describing micro-evolution, which nobody disagrees with; and then they twist the meaning to refer to macro-evolution, which does not happen.

Of course science has been wrong throughout history. He neglects to mention that its self-correcting nature is its greatest strength. Does he expect us to throw the scientific method out the window because people used to believe in necromancy? No? Then why bring this up? If we’re going to accept that the scientific method is the best way to learn things, then we need to go where it takes us. And all the evidence we have supports modern evolutionary synthesis. That’s the science, it’s not “popular opinion” as polls of the American public clearly show.

Micro-evolution and macro-evolution are terms that Young Earthers invented to explain examples of evolution that they’ve found otherwise incontrovertible. “Evolution does not take place.” “Here’s an example of evolution taking place.” “Oh, that’s just MICRO-evolution.” The only word game being played here is yours, Dr. Wells.

CREATIONIST ARGUMENT: Evolution is itself a religion.

SKEPTOID: I don’t recall seeing any references to divine superbeings in the evolutionary literature, and I’ve never met someone who considers himself a member of any Darwin Church.

DR. WELLS: “Darwinists” mistakenly call anyone with a scientific point that disputes the Official Consensus a “Creationist”. Darwin’s theory is actually a materialistic philosophy, and so is actually a denial of religion. Darwin’s original writings were a religious argument (or anti-religious, which is the same thing).

I’ve met extremely religious people to whom everything is black and white. You can’t walk down the street without it being, to them, either in praise of Jesus or an act of Satanism. To Dr. Wells, you can’t even practice scientific research without it being a religious act. Note that one of his favorite words is “Darwinist”, which he uses almost exclusively in place of “scientist” or “biologist”. If you’re not a Young Earther, you’re a “Darwinist”.

Dr. Wells is known as a “Moonie” because he worships Sun Myung Moon as the Messiah. By referring to biologists as “Darwinists”, Dr. Wells hopes to evoke the same worshipful relationship. A “Darwinist”, by all the rules of language, can only mean a person who worships Darwin. Young Earthers often imply, or even outright state, that biologists are a religious faithful who worship Darwin and consider his writings sacred.

Wells’ constant use of the Creationist-invented term “Darwinist” is highly deliberate. It’s not merely casual speech.

Calling a biologist a “Darwinist” is as absurd as calling an aerospace engineer a Wrightist. Sure, Darwin and the Wrights did some important early work in their scientific fields, and they deserve their due accolades; but I can’t think of any person knowledgeable in either field who believes that early work was infallible, inerrant, and sacred.

If Dr. Wells disagrees with any of this, then I challenge him to stop using the term. That’ll be the day. Poisoning the well through use of the term “Darwinism” is his favorite device, and one of his most effective weapons.

CREATIONIST ARGUMENT: Evolution has never been observed.

SKEPTOID: Evolution has indeed been exhaustively observed and documented. Open a textbook.

DR. WELLS: There is no evidence that any new species has ever appeared through natural processes.

If you believe that Noah’s flood created the Grand Canyon in just a few days 4,000 years ago, then it’s easy to accept that rabbit skeletons and Tyrannosaurus fossils are never found together because they were standing on opposite sides of the river at the time. [I guess... perhaps Dr. Wells would be good enough to enlighten us as to his own explanation for the geotemporal distribution of the fossil record, since no new species have appeared since Creation took place.]

CREATIONIST ARGUMENT: There is an absence of transitional fossils.

SKEPTOID: Examples of transitional fossils in the horse record given. Links given to numerous online sources of many hundreds of transitional fossils.

DR. WELLS: All these versions of fossils only prove that there were many types of animals. It does not prove that one changed into another — something we’ve never seen. (And by the way, nobody uses horses any more as examples of transitional fossils.)

If you have a different explanation for their geotemporal placement, I’m ready to hear it. When evidence is presented, it’s inadequate to simply say “No, I don’t believe it.” The scientific method provides a way to build a theory to explain the observation. So, develop and present your alternate theory.

Note: If you plan to say that the geotemporal placement is useless because all the rock strata on Earth were laid during the few days following Noah’s flood, fine, let me know and we’ll have some geologists on hand to hear your evidence of that. If you still “haven’t looked at the evidence” since Kansas 2005, that’s no problem, we’ll be happy to fill you in.

CREATIONIST ARGUMENT: It’s too unlikely that complex forms could evolve by chance.

SKEPTOID: Explained the basics of bottom-up design guided by selection: Improvement is not only likely, it’s virtually inevitable. Software simulations illustrate it well.

DR. WELLS: “Show me.” (Laughter.) “These are huge claims being made here, and I would like to see some evidence for it.” (And then the crown jewel:) “Who designed that software?” (Comedy rimshot sound effect.)

No, you wouldn’t like to see such evidence. Why do you even say that? YOU’VE BEEN SHOWN SUCH EVIDENCE A THOUSAND TIMES and you still deny that anyone has any. I’m not going to play your game and repeat it here for you, at the expense of hours of data collection and assimilation, which you would ignore the same as you’ve always ignored it. So you should react with eye rolling and condescending laughter, and say something like “Big surprise, he says he refuses to show me evidence — why do you think that is?”

The fact is I don’t really care what you think. Nobody interested in learning really cares. In fact, I don’t even join with those who blame the Young Earthers for the superstitious beliefs held by so many young students in the United States: I blame a failing science education system. So, while I certainly find the Discovery Institute’s efforts to replace science with superstition to be counterproductive, I don’t feel that a direct confrontation is the solution: There are a thousand other superstitions waiting to take its place. Better communication and dissemination of good information is the solution.

That’s why I produce Skeptoid and contribute to SkepticBlog. Entertain, enlighten, and educate.

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Discovery Institute vs. Skeptoid: Round 2, 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

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37 Responses to “Discovery Institute vs. Skeptoid: Round 2”

  1. Rogue Medic says:

    We need to teach students how to honestly figure things out for themselves. That means the scientific method.

    By using the scientific method they should be able to educate themselves using the available resources. They should be able to differentiate between good science and bad science (variables not controlled for, invalid assumptions, no clear end point, . . . ). Some research includes an introductory segment. This describes what the study hopes to examine, that was not known before.

    This is the kind of thing that can help to show a student how research progresses from study to study. Not always forward with each study, but cumulatively making progress.

  2. Brian says:

    Wells is one of those folks who, having clearly learned enough to understand the flaws in creationist argument, almost have to be being consciously dishonest in order to stand by their position. Ugh.

  3. Theo says:

    What I say to creationists is, instead of spending your time on the internet reading creationist propaganda, head down to the nearest university library and spend a day looking through all the scientific journals, of say the last 50 years. The shear weight of varied and mutually corroborating evidence for evolution should at least give you pause to reconsider your views, if you’re open minded of course…

    The usual response is “La, la, la, la, la, la, la…” with fingers stuck in ears.

  4. SionH says:

    I’m a transitional species, if Dr Wells would like to see me…

  5. Fission235 says:

    Someone please explain how it’s possible that this man has a PhD in Biology.

  6. Chas says:

    The StarTribune, one of the two main newspapers in the same cities as this radio broadcast published an interesting piece in the opinions section recently that explained that “Darwin himself never took his findings about evolution as definitive evidence against the existence of God” I figured that is a good point help counter the claim that evolution is a denial of religion.

    http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentary/39579902.html?elr=KArksUUUU

    • DavidA.M. says:

      Indeed. Having religious beliefs shouldn’t have anything to do with scientific observation. How should any scientific discovery be an affront to my biblical understanding that the nature of God is revealed to us through his creation. The argument stating evolutionary disputes the existence of God is to me is as asinine as an argument stating that the existence of God disputes evolutionary theory.

      The science-fiction fan in me drives me to theorize that
      the debate is just one giant distraction from both scientific and spiritual discovery – a real ‘devil’! ;)

  7. Ben says:

    Hey, Brian, I enjoy your podcast.

    My concern here is that you seem a little too annoyed and unnecessarily short on content in your response to Wells. For instance you allude to a whole bunch of evidence but really don’t get into any of it, expecting creationists to think just like you do when they go read some text books. That seems a lot like the same kind of “failed education” you were complaining about as though our best teachers just send students away to the library hoping the figure out how to think critically about whatever they read.

    The most striking example of where you seem to be lacking in content here is that you completely missed an opportunity to point out that regardless of who designed the evolution software, the principles involved reflect unintelligent ones in nature and the end products are not specifically designed by an intelligent being. That’s hardly analogous to the divine mechanism of YECism. Instead it seems like you go on a little rant about how you “don’t care” about what Wells thinks even though of course the entire post seems to be at least a little about “caring” about it.

    When you mentioned that Wells poisons the well with the term “Darwinist” (and I did like your Wrightist comparison, btw) I couldn’t help but think of your own opening section where you tried to claim you weren’t making an ad hominem attack. But it still basically serves to poison the well before you get into the arguments. Don’t you think Wells honestly believes in his views? People can have agendas as well as intellectual honesty. They aren’t mutually exclusive. Granted I agree you are probably correct in this case, but it could still have been more brief, perhaps a link could be given to his background instead, or it could have even been put at the end perhaps.

    I don’t know. I’ve seen (or rather heard) better from you. Basically, if I were in Wells’ shoes, I would be even more set off by way too many skeptical short cuts and cliches’ and not only as unmoved as before, but more validated in my error as so often tends to be the case in my experience. I mean no offense, and I hope this comes across as constructive criticism. If not, please disregard.

    Ben

  8. Chas says:

    To follow up on my comment above…
    If Darwin really never claimed that evolution disproved God and the creation, doesn’t that tend to make the beginnings of whole the Creationist movement a “Straw Man” argument to begin with?

  9. The amazing thing about the techniques used by folks like Dr. Wells is that it puts them in the same intellectual school as the current government of Iran with regards their treatment of the Baha’i religious minority. (http://bwns.org/human-rights/iran/iran-update/)

  10. Dustin says:

    “We need to teach students how to honestly figure things out for themselves. That means the scientific method.

    By using the scientific method they should be able to educate themselves using the available resources.”

    I wholeheartedly agree, learning the scientific method at an early stage was likely the most pivotal moment of my life as a child, and it’s a lesson I intend my children to learn early as well.

    Creationism, and religion in general, can’t stand under scientific scrutiny and they know it. This helps explain why they fight against science education with the vigor they do. Agnostics and religious apologists like to pretend that science doesn’t refute religion, but if there’s one thing to give credit to the fundies for it’s that at least they’re willing to admit the truth. A proper scientific education doesn’t seek to undermine religious teachings, it simply does so through the same methodology that leads children to discount the tooth fairy, alchemy, and other fanciful (if unsupported) stories.

    The scientific method isn’t something that can be covered for a week in middle school and then never referenced again, it needs to be the centerpiece of a child’s science curricula. If that were the case we wouldn’t even be having this discussion, as the DI and organizations like it would be relegated to their soap boxes.

  11. Derek says:

    “Macro” evolution *is* “micro” evolution. I don’t think there is a problem with having a distinction. Micro is a generational view, while Macro is a view over a much longer period of time. But to accept micro-evolution and reject macro-evolution is a very silly concept. It’s like having a belief that compound interest only works for a few years and then stops.

    The Talk Origins website has so much research and so many PICTURES (for those intimidated by reading), all responses to deniers should just be a link to http://www.talkorigins.org

  12. Laih says:

    @Dustin: I certainly can’t speak for all agnostics, but *this* agnostic doesn’t like to pretend that science does not refute religion. Instead, I take it from a more skeptical point of view: should sufficient evidence be produced to my satisfaction, I’m more than willing to believe in a God, a designer, a Cthulhu, or a Flying Spaghetti Monster. I don’t completely discount the possibility, no matter how incredibly unlikely I find it.

    In regards to the article itself, one of the things I found most shocking in my life was when I discovered that there are, in fact, people who honestly believe that Jesus hung out with dinosaurs. When I was in school, the idea that God created the universe was simply not discussed. Among my peers, the notion that what we explored regarding the early stages of the world was a falsehood was never even a possibility. There was nothing to discuss, really: there was a large body of information supporting it, and we conducted labs simulating natural selection to further enhance our experience of evolution. Perhaps that’s why I find it as absolutely mind-boggling as I do that the Young-Earthers have such an apparently strong following.

  13. AL says:

    Micro-evolution and macro-evolution are terms that Young Earthers invented to explain examples of evolution that they’ve found otherwise incontrovertible.

    Actually, micro- and macroevolution are legitimate scientific distinctions. They are not terms YECs invented, but they are terms YECs abuse.

    Larry Moran has a good summary of the scientific notion of macroevolution, and not the Creationist caraciture of it, here:
    http://bioinfo.med.utoronto.ca/Evolution_by_Accident/Macroevolution.html

  14. Maria Marques says:

    The global economic crisis looks “constructed” . Can Skeptics comment about it?

  15. Fred says:

    Great post Brian. very articulate. I once did some research (brief) on Dr Wells in an online debate I was having with a creationist. I found out that he had basically declared war on materialism in general but I did not know about the Moonies and the other odd beliefs this guy holds.

  16. SeanJJordan says:

    Hey, that last sentence sounds familiar — “To educate, entertain and enrich” is the mission of my publishing company! We produce educational graphic novels for kids. (http://www.codeofthewild.com for anyone who’s interested.)

    I agree with you, Brian, that we have GOT to do something about our science education program. We need to teach kids to weigh the evidence… not look to science, religion, or anything else as some sort of mystical thing. A lot of kids I’ve talked to in schools think science is just a bunch of mumbo jumbo, and they’re only interested in it if something gets blown up. We’ve got to work on that.

  17. Traveler says:

    If creationists are willing to fund someone’s biology PhD, then one wonders why they don’t do research that will actually back up their ideas. If micro evolution happens, but macro evolution doesn’t, then there must be some mechanism at the genetic level that prevents mutations from accumulating to the point where the differences between the start and end points would be considered macro evolution. (Assuming you could ever get a firm definition of the different between micro and macro) Why aren’t they searching for this mechanism? If they are right, then this mecahanism must exist, and finding it would put a nail in the coffin of common descent.

  18. Max says:

    Speaking of software simulations, just the other day I tried a really simple evolutionary algorithm, and it worked like a charm.

    The goal is to find a 3D point within a unit cube.

    I start off with 10 random points and repeat the following:

    1. Natural selection: Pick the two points closest to the goal and kill the rest.
    2. Reproduction: Have these two “parent” points give birth to a child point halfway between them.
    3. Variation: Give birth to 7 more points by copying the parents and child and perturbing them by a random number.

    After just ten, count ‘em, ten iterations, or 100 guesses, I typically end up within a distance of 0.01 from the goal.
    To get the same accuracy with a brute force method of just generating random points, I would need 100^3 = one million guesses.

    Typical criticisms are easily countered:
    1. “The natural selection step infuses purpose.”
    But the direction to the goal is never given. The only feedback is that the points that fall behind die out.
    2. “The reproduction strategy is intelligently designed.”
    But reproduction strategies can evolve too. I could run different ones in parallel, and the ones that fall behind die out.

  19. Mark A. Siefert says:

    “I don’t even join with those who blame the Young Earthers for the superstitious beliefs held by so many young students in the United States: I blame a failing science education system.”

    An excellent rebuttal Brian, but I think you’re missing the rabid, 800 lb gorilla in the room; the REAL reason creationism and ID’s popularity in the U.S.: religion.

    You could spend billions more on education. You could devise the most comprehensive curricula that is taught by qualified, engaging science teachers. You can produce catchy and informative TV documentaries for TLC and the Discover Channel that can explain complex scientific information to laymen. I fear that it will all be for naught as long as there is a significant portion of the American people who are willing to toss facts out the window in the name of faith. Especially a faith that directly connects morality and propriety with the belief that humanity was specifically created by a all-powerful deity.

    If evolution is going to gain the acceptance it enjoys in other Western nations we don’t only need more education, were going to need LESS religion. As long as skeptics tip-toe around that need in the name of some misplaced notion of political correctness, we’re going to have to continue to put up with “Dr.” Wells, the Discovery Institute, creationism, and America’s long slow slide into ignorance.

  20. Max says:

    Obviously, less religion means less Creationism, but it doesn’t mean less ideology or more skepticism. The Soviets rejected Creationism, but they also rejected genetics and pushed Lysenkoism.

  21. Max says:

    The debate in the United States over the validity of Evolution has nothing to do with faith or science. the debate and those who fight so hard to to tear down evolution are in a war over power. Their agenda is for control, nothing more. As mankind becomes more and more aware of our place in the universe there is less and less room for god. This takes away the power from some, so they fight as hard as they can. Evolution can be a hard thing to grasp. This give them a place to show doubt in science.

  22. bort says:

    @Fission235 “Someone please explain how it’s possible that this man has a PhD in Biology.”
    Not all PhDs are created equal. Some advisers have a students project all laid out for them and all they are essentially is a pair of hands. Other students are required to develop everything on their own. I am guessing Wells falls in the former category

  23. jackd says:

    One exchange above (the second paraphrase from the broadcast, starting with “Evolution is controversial”) actually pleased me. Wells’ reply only makes sense if you acknowledge that a scientific consensus exists. He’s basically surrendered the original claim, not that I expect that will stop him from repeating it.

  24. Joe says:

    Wow, I have to agree with some points here by commenters…

    The fight between evolution and creationism is by people who see their cherished dogma crumble and think this means everything else is a lie (and this translates in a perceived loss of power). Fact is many religious groups (specifically catholics) believe with out a doubt in evolution. The Vatican just sponsored a seminar on this to celebrate Darwin. Oh, and BTW Darwin was a Christian minister.

    I love the Simpsons episode where Flanders tells Reverend Lovejoy that they need to teach creationism in school… Lovejoy refers to the Bible and says “well, you gotta take this with a grain of salt” and his wife tells him they can create controversy and have people flocking to their church.

    I wonder what creationists would think if you told them the tale of Gilgamesh and the flood? This would probably make them cry… or stick their fingers in their ears and go “la la la la la”.

  25. Max says:

    I went and listened to the radio show, all it was was a group of adults, as Joe says “la la la la la”
    They never even really address what Brian says or the actual arguments against creation. And for a group of guys who are not creationists they sure were offended by Brian’s podcast. I mean come on Hinkle???? They are still beating that drum!!!
    The sad part is there are those who don’t know any better and see these arguments as valid and think they understand this very complex subject.

  26. “If creationists are willing to fund someone’s biology PhD, then one wonders why they don’t do research that will actually back up their ideas.”

    Oh, they have, they have. Long ago. They were unable, as you might expect, to discover scientific evidence for creation, nor could they find scientific evidence disproving evolution. They learned a long time ago that their success will not come in the lab or in the field, but in the media and via politics.

  27. “Someone please explain how it’s possible that this man has a PhD in Biology.”

    It’s wise not to place but so much faith in or respect for a Ph.D. award. I went through the process and it isn’t smarts that gets one through as much as it is perseverance. Admittedly, I may be one of them for my own reasons, but at least half my Ph.D. ‘class’ were absolute morons, of the post-modernist stripe.

  28. The Blind Watchmaker says:

    Nobody ever “observed” a species being “created”. We have “observed” bacteria evolving, however, at alarming rates.

    Radio talk shows make me dumber.

  29. doofus says:

    Attempt at software humor:

    So is God a YACC?
    Yet another creature compiler?

  30. Neil says:

    As most creationists are used to having their ‘beliefs’ fed to them, it takes a great mental stretch for them to understand that that’s not how everybody arrives at a conclusion. You, unfortunately, can’t just give them facts and let them make up their own mind, because the very activity of making up one’s own mind is as alien to a creationist as a marathon run is to a four hundred pound shut-in.

    As we, gradually, grow out of certain superstitions, I wonder if humans are becoming more enlightened, skeptical and capable of making up our own minds, or if we’re the same as we always have been, just moving on to other memes.

  31. tmac57 says:

    Neil,
    It seems to me that at least a good portion of humanity are doing the later. Old superstitious beliefs die down but apparently never out, and new ones are constantly being created. For the reality based community, it is like a global game of whack-a-mole.

  32. Paul Caggegi says:

    I merely have to look at my pathetic patch of Austin-Powers-esque chest hair to prove to myself that no designer would play such a cruel joke on their creation.

  33. “For the reality based community, it is like a global game of whack-a-mole.”

    Problem #1 is that every community considers itself reality based.

  34. Paul Caggegi says:

    I am encouraged by the fact folks like him are confined to Christian radio stations. From down here in Oz, I get the impression Christian radio stations are ones you actively have to seek out rather than ones that are given prime-time slots?

    Of course, I haven’t looked at the evidence to support that claim, but maybe someone can set me straight… :D

  35. Paul D. Wilson says:

    “Problem #1 is that every community considers itself reality based.”

    So true. This is why I keep hearing both side declare victory.

  36. bill don says:

    Okay experts of evolution. Explain away the classic bombardier beetle to me please. I will include this little article for you:

    Dr Schildknecht discovered that in the beetle’s specially designed combustion tubes are two enzymes called catalase and peroxidase which make chemical reactions go millions of times faster. These chemicals catalyze the extremely rapid decomposition of hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen and the oxidation of hydroquinone into quinone, causing them to violently react and explode—but not so soon as to blow up the beetle, of course!

    Common sense tells us that this amazing little insect cannon which can fire four or five ‘bombs’ in succession could not have evolved piece by piece. Explosive chemicals, inhibitor, enzymes, glands, combustion tubes, sensory communication, muscles to direct the combustion tubes and reflex nervous systems—all had to work perfectly the very first time—or all hopes for ‘Bomby’ and his children would have exploded!

    (From Nature Friend magazine, P.O. Box 73, Goshen, Indiana, 46526 USA, March, 1989. Used by permission.)

    So is this particular case fictional? Is it some hoax made up to dispel evolution? Let me explain what I think happened in this case:

    1. God said let there be a bombardier beetle and there was.

    Too simple? Stupid conclusion because it isn’t based on the famed empirical evidence? It seems to me that this example is often ignored or left alone. So explain it away for me. Convince me that I am wrong and that evolution can account for this amazing insect.