Class Warfare Blog

October 19, 2020

Intelligent Design . . . Right . . .

Filed under: Religion,Science — Steve Ruis @ 12:31 pm
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Some claim that all order in nature is due to them being designed by some sort of intelligent designer. Here is an example.

This photo isn’t of an abstract painting. It’s a portrait of the crystals that form after two amino acids — L-glutamine and beta-alanine — were heated in a solution made of ethanol and water. One of the compounds, L-glutamine, is a building block for proteins and ensures that the immune system can function. The other, beta-alanine, helps with muscle endurance.

Look carefully. This phantasmagoric image was created by amino acids forming crystals all on their own.

Nature is self-organizing. This is not an article of faith. It is an observation.

Photo by Justin Zoll of Ithica, New York.

October 30, 2018

#2 of the 10 Reasons to Believe God Exists

Yesterday I covered #1 on this list, so if you need to see where this list was posted and by whom, please consult that post. Here is #2!

  1. Designed Creation (Teleological Argument). Hugh Ross has argued that there are over 180 cosmological constants in the universe so finely tuned that if they were to be changed by the nth degree, life and the universe itself would not exist. Even the theoretical multiverse would need to be designed to such a degree that it would require a designer. I believe wholeheartedly that physicists will eventually find design attributes and constants in the quantum realm if they haven’t already. Design argues for a Designer.

Once again, this is not a new argument, variants of it having been made by Plato and Aristotle and even earlier philosophers. The scientific window dressing is new and also incorrect. (Hugh Ross* was wrong! Gasp!) For one, there are not 180 “cosmological constants.” What are being referred to is a much smaller set of fundamental physical constants. When this “fine tuning” argument was first made, it inspired a number of physicists to investigate if it were true (the criticism of the conjecture and criticism of science). It turns out that a fair amount of variation in several of the parameters is not at all destructive. We also don’t know if these parameters are fundamentally linked somehow that they all influence the others to make them what they are.

The fundamental flaw in the argument is, again, the powers and identity of any claimed designer are not inferable from the design. Arguments like “God must look like us because we were made in His image” are, of course, circular. So, again, our universe could have been created by a powerful alien, like the character Q in the Star Trek franchise, for example. The creation and the design are not necessarily from the same source, either. (Outside of space and time, there may be pre-packaged “Acme Universe Creation Kits” for all we know.)

All of that aside, there is something fundamentally wrong with this argument. The argument for “the existence of God from the evidence of order, and hence design, in nature” mistakes order for design. In fact, the “intelligent design” crowd has never been able to come up with a coherent definition of “intelligent design.”

Clearly patterns abound in nature. Many mineral substances create highly ordered crystals that can be found lying around on or in the ground. Ordinary table salt (sea salt, NaCl, etc.) forms crystals shaped like little cubes. With some encouragement, those crystals can grow to be large, clear, and quite beautiful. The reason those crystals appear and grow as they do is that they are made of sodium and chloride ions (Na+ and Cl–) arranged in alternating fashion in all three cardinal directions. Well, who organizes them this way? They organize themselves by the simple attraction and repulsion of their electrical charges. Each ion has six ions of the opposite charge above and below, to the left and right, and front and back, there is another set of ions that are repulsive because they are of the same charge, but they are 40% farther away and the rule of attraction is an inverse square law, with the distance being the thing both inverse and square, so the repulsions are fully twice as weak as the attractions. If you continue to study chemistry and biology, you will quickly see that nature is self-organizing, no Organizer™ needed. The organizing principles are simple physical behaviors described by simple physical laws. Complexities arise naturally when large numbers of different atoms and molecules get involved.

So, nature is literally steeped in patterns, and along we come. Our brains are clearly designed (by evolution) to see patterns. We see patterns when they are not even there (many optical illusions are based upon this). Why? Because our survival as individuals and, hence, as a species is enhanced by this ability.

So, patterns, patterns, everywhere is the structure of our environment. But patterns and designs are two different things. The touters of the teleological argument claim that all reasonably complex patterns are actually designs. They have established no criteria for how one can tell this, basically they are claiming this “because God.” (Note that the author claims that “physicists will eventually find design attributes.” Why? Because they have not yet been found. So, if “design argues for a designer” and there are no designs yet found, what would you conclude?)  Again, they have a presupposed solution and generate a problem to fit it. If you pick up an ordinary rock, does it look “designed”? If you pick up an extraordinary natural crystal, like a gemstone, does it look designed?

The theory of evolution, on the other hand, shows over and over and over how these patterns form in living things. It also points out flaws in the patterns from nature’s use of already developed genetic instructions that were easily modified and cause what happened, but resulted in actually hazardous designs. The argument from design has no such process other than “God did it.”

* “Hugh’s unshakable confidence that God’s revelation of Himself in Scripture and nature do not, will not, and cannot contradict became his unique message. Communicating that message as broadly and clearly as possible became his mission. He scouts the frontiers of origins research to share with scientists and nonscientists alike the thrilling news of what’s being discovered and how it connects with biblical theology.” (Source: A “Just Right Universe” by Hugh Ross, Ph.D.)

It seems Dr. Ross has a bias (“do not, will not, and cannot” aren’t scientific attitudes) he is willing to share.

July 16, 2017

It Is Put Up or Shut Up Time for the Intelligent Design Movement

Filed under: Religion,Science — Steve Ruis @ 8:52 am
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As you may know the “Intelligent Design Theory” is just a second (third, fourth, … ?) generation form of Creationism. The people who created “ID” (it is not a theory by the way, at best it is an hypothesis) are folks who believe that God created the entire universe in only six days, about 6000 years ago or so and the science that says otherwise, aka “God’s Creation,” just has to be wrong.

The ID people spend most of their time criticizing the science of evolution (which claims we evolved and were not created magically), paleontology (which claims there is fossil and other evidence dating animals and humans back millions of years), geology (which claims that the Earth is over four billion years old), cosmology (which claims the universe is much older than our solar system), etc. but they do not seem to be motivated to answer questions on their own. These people are like colleagues who criticize your work but don’t do any work themselves.

So, it is put up or shut up time. Here are a few questions I would like to see the ID people answer. All are based upon their beliefs, primarily that God created everything about 6000 years ago. Also, since they argue that we cannot know the mind of God, I choose not to ask “why” so much as “how.”

  1. When God created all of the stars, how did he create the starlight so that it looks like it had been en route for billions of years? (Humans can start light beams and stop light beams, but not create a beam millions of light years long instantly.)
  2. When God created the Earth, He included the fossilized remains of animals that were not described in the Bible or any other historical source. How was this done, also why? (The answer “it was a test of faith” is specious because that would imply a knowledge of the mind of God.)
  3. There are animals on Earth that cannot be domesticated, nor are they good tasting or nutritious. How is it that they serve man’s dominion?
  4. When the Earth was created, radioactive elements were created alongside large quantities of their daughter products, thus creating the illusion that those minerals had been buried for millions if not billions of years. How was this done?
  5. Since all of the Earth’s creatures were created just 6000 years ago, why does all of the evidence in God’s creation point to them having evolved over a very much longer time period (3 billion years).
  6. Why does mitochondrial DNA point to a common modern human ancestor of all current humans (Mitochondrial Eve) who lived somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000 years ago?
  7. If the Earth was created 6000 years ago, why does the Earth exhibit geological layers of sediment that can only have taken place over a very long time. Many of these layers show extreme tilting and folding and contain the remains of plants and animals of bizarre domains (e.g. ferns near mountain tops)?
  8. If all of the Earth’s animals are descendant’s of the animals on Noah’s Ark, why does their DNA point back to common ancestors far farther in the past?
  9. In the Garden of Eden, what did the carnivores eat? If they ate the meat of other animals, then the GOE was a charnel house as all of the lions, tigers, and wolves mowed down all of sheep, cattle, and the rest of their kind. (Death was common in the GOE then.) If they ate grass, how were they converted into carnivores from herbivores in such a short time?

How about we collect a long list of such questions for the ID movement? Help the IDers by asking questions like the above. It seems that they are struggling to come up with a research agenda, let’s create on for them! Now, that’s creationism!

December 23, 2016

A Time of Year for Worshiping … What?

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 2:10 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Creationists seem to think that there is only one process of dating antiquities: carbon-14 dating. Actually the list of techniques that can be used to date materials is rather long, too long to list here (with explanations, names wouldn’t mean much). And the interesting thing is that there is rough agreement between all of these. Realize, though, that all of these do not overlap with one another. Counting tree rings, for example, only goes back a few thousand years, which overlaps with all of the others, but just for a few thousand years. Carbon-14 dating can only go back about the last 50,000 years (modern humans have been around longer). Others go back billions of years which overlap with just a few of the others, so the amount of deep time these techniques covers differs quite a bit.

And what have we learned from these techniques?

If we were to use the age of the Earth as measure, which is about 4.5 billion years, and we were to go back from now to about one sixth of that time, we would find a world containing only single cell organisms. Studies keep pushing the first occurrence of such organisms back and back but let us just say that they first appeared fairly early in this entire time period, much lass than the first billion years of earth’s existence, so “life on Earth” was only single cell organisms for over three quarters of its time in existence.

During that last one-sixth of the Earth’s existence, as we go back from “now” to “then,” life gets simpler and simpler and less diverse, meaning that during this period of hundreds of millions of years, life became more and more complex.

These are just a few of myriad things we have learned about our planet of origin. Once living organisms formed, then the process of evolution mindlessly made life more and more complex. Creationists say this violates the laws of thermodynamics with is incredibly stupid. All the laws of thermodynamics say is if a chemical process involves the creation of more complicated chemicals from less complicated chemicals, then it will cost some energy. And where might that energy have come from? I don’t know … maybe the sun, gravity, lightning, heat from inside the Earth pouring out in volcanic eruptions, etc. There were many sources of energy available to make more complicated things from less complicated. We are still paying this cost. To prevent the collection of very complex chemicals that is each of us from degrading too quickly, we must eat food quite regularly to provide the energy needed to remake complex chemicals to replace those falling apart. This is done by a chemical process called metabolism (scientists have learned about that, too). If we refrain from eating for a month or two, we might die from that (it depends on how much food energy we have stored before we begin).

Creationists, aka Intelligent Design advocates, deny all of this knowledge (from fields of biology, geology, paleontology, etc,) a quantity of denial that is astoundingly large, all because it conflicts with their Bible. The Earth cannot be as old as it is measured to be. Man was created fully formed and all of those fossils of early “men” were really just from apes. The fact that none of these apes show up in our history books or stories is because they all died in the Great Flood of the Bible. They claim that there are “holes” in the scientific story (there are, there always are) but the holes they claim are there were filled decades ago. (Creationists know this, they are just being dishonest, using arguments they think you might buy out of ignorance.)

Basically Creationists/IDers are claiming that God could not have made the Earth … and us … the way we actually demonstrably are because the Bible says differently. They do not believe God is powerful enough to have made the Earth … and us … as our lying eyes show us quite plainly. They do not believe in God so much as they believe in the Bible, a form of idolatry they were warned against by the Bible itself.

A recent blog post asked the innocent question: what if … what if we taught Creationism rather than the massive scientific knowledge that contradicts the claims of the Bible? What would change? Well, I would contend that nothing would change as human beings are pragmatic beings and we tend to ignore and then “forget” nonsense we learn in school. Would people with sick children take them to church to have their demons exorcized or would they take them to the hospital for modern medical treatments? Would people no longer buy automobiles because they contradict the teachings of the Bible? Would cell phones be considered demonic and non-Biblical and hence have to go back to the pit of Hell whence they came? Would we stop exploring space because God gave us dominion over this planet and well, when it is used up, it is time for us to all die?

I think you can answer these questions.

Basically, what the Christian Creationists are denying is that the Bible is man-made, like every other book in existence. The fact that the various books of the Bible were written at vastly different times, indicates that there was more than one author, as does the various viewpoints expressed, the various writing styles, and literally dozens of other facts, etc. Many Christians are unaware that none (zero, zip, zilch) of the original biblical manuscripts are available. Of the earliest copies we have found, there are more differences between those manuscripts than there are total words in the entire Bible. And there were literal battles about what materials should go into the Bible, with people being killed, not just intellectual battles. These, of course, proceeded alongside the battles over how the scriptures were to be interpreted. The book literally screams “man made.”

But Creationists insist that with regard to their special interest, the Bible has no mistakes and is the actual word of god. There are, of course, hundreds of such mistakes/contradictions in their book. These are denied or just waved away with nonsensical arguments.

The real effect were Creationism were to be taught in our schools, either alongside the science or in place of the science, should be the increase of all forms of denial. After all, anything you practice that much should make you good at it. So Climate Change Denial and Evolution Denial would be just the tip of the iceberg, metaphorically.

And, if you get really good at it: denial, that is … why you might just become President of the United States some day!

 

 

February 26, 2016

Aliens and Creationists

I am beginning to believe that the ability of ordinary people to think is vanishingly small and probably smaller if you are a creationist or IDer. And, no I am not talking about the candidacy of Donald Trump. I am talking about the creationists’ obsession with aliens. Apparently their god didn’t create any. How they could know this is quite beyond me.

One aspect of their blather is the so-called Fermi Paradox which is neither Fermi’s nor a paradox. The FP goes like this: if aliens exist, some must be very advanced and have noticed us by now; where are they? It sounds reasonable, but the obvious answer (They don’t exist!) is unwarranted.

Just put on your thinking cap for second. We have been producing radio waves and other electromagnetic signals for a bit over 100 years. So, lets be very conservative and say that there is a bubble 500 light-years in radius that our presence can be detected. (500 years of travel at the speed of light in a vacuum is a reasonable maximum supposition). The universe as a whole is 14+ billion light years in radius, so what percent of the entire universe does our “close enough to notice the humans” bubble consist? Since the volume of such spaces is proportional to a cube of the radius, the percent is (5003/14,000,000,0003) x 100. I will do the math for you .. uh … essentially zero (It is 0.00000000000000000000000455%.) This is also the probability that any aliens would fly through our bubble and notice our presence. This assumes that the aliens had sufficient technology to fly around faster than the speed of light and other apparently impossible abilities.

Now, those are the spatial odds. Regarding time, our 500 years is a very small fraction of the time the universe has existed (14+ billion years). Let me be generous and assume that the first 4+ billion years were needed for alien life to evolve (the creationists creator need not be so limited) so with regard to time, we have been signally for (500/10,000,000,000) x 100 = 0.000005% of the time period since life began in this universe (approximately). So, the aliens would have to be alive and looking during our time period to find us, no? So, the probability that aliens would find us is the product of these two probabilities, the spatial and the temporal probabilities, which is 0.000005% of basically zero.

So, for all you creationists who are asking “Where are these aliens?” Shut the fuck up and sit down. Besides, we really do not want them to find us. History shows us that when more “advanced” technological societies meet less advanced, it doesn’t go well for the less advanced.

July 22, 2013

An Addendum to “Creationism . . .In Ireland . . . Oh, My!”

In Mr. Givans’ quotation (see previous post) he referred to us science types giving short shrift to “alternative theories to evolution.” This is a meme promulgated by creationists by this they mean “Creationism.” The only problem is that there are no alternative theories to evolution. There are a number of variants to how some believe evolution to play out, but there are no alternative theories, so it is impossible to give them short shrift. They just tried to slip that lie into another argument (be fair; teach all the theories) hoping you wouldn’t notice the big lie in the smaller statement.

And people, Creationism is not a theory. Creationism is that God created the planet exactly as it was 6010 years ago (with all of the buried fossils, ruins of older civilizations, etc.). This is no different from saying that fairies did the same or that aliens of some advanced species did the same. And, if it were true, then it could just as well happened 5000 years ago, 100,000 years ago, or yesterday and we would have no way to tell this. So, how is this a theory? What in Nature points to this interpretation? (Absolutely nothing in case you didn’t know.)

Nature, otherwise known as “God’s creation” by these folks, points to a 4+ billion year old planet born in a universe 10 billion years old at the birth. Why would any god or alien or fairy think that it would be a good idea to leave such contrary clues to be found? Why wouldn’t they leave clues telling us the world is 6000 years old? Why would they want to delude us and in so doing undermine God’s own words?

And since God’s creation is the only reliable record of God’s actions, why would a book written 3000 years after the event, written by somebody with no reputation for truth telling, and delivered to a civilization that was far from the most advanced on the planet at the time be held up as superior to what your lying eyes can tell you?

Just askin’.

May 23, 2013

Creationists at a Crossroads

If you haven’t read John Zande’s brilliant post on the turmoil in the Christian world over the biblical scholars finally blowing the lid off of the Big Biblical Secret (Psst, the first five books of the Bible are fiction! . . . pass it on.), I highly recommend it to you (Well, This Is a Little Embarrassing, Isn’t It?).

Now creationists, people who believe that the universe was brought into being by magic, either 6000 years ago or maybe 14 billion years ago, are in a bit of a bind. Creationists argue against the findings in cosmology, physics, geology, space sciences, and biology because they prefer to believe that the story of the creation of the universe as told in Genesis of the Bible is literally true.

Well, biblical scholars have finally pointed out what they have known for over a century, that there is not one shred of evidence that the first five books of the Bible are historical and there is a great deal of historical evidence that points to their being fiction.

So, creationists, who were blocked from getting their “scientific doctrine” into school textbooks in this country as a violation of our separation of church and state doctrine and who then reclothed their doctrine as the “Intelligent Design Theory,” therefore have a bit of a problem. They are arguing that they are right and the biblical scholars, whose job it is to know about these things are wrong.

What do you want to bet that this is exactly what they will do? After all, they have had a considerable amount of practice telling biologists, Darwinists, chemists, physicists, astronomers, geologists, archeologists, cosmologists, evolutionists, etc. they are all wrong. How hard could it be to add a majority of biblical scholars to the list?

March 11, 2013

Intelligent Designers Have Designs on Your Children

Ken Miller

Dr. Ken Miller, Brown U.

Ken Miller, Professor of Biology at Brown, has provided an interesting take on the “teach the controversy” folk’s argument. If you haven’t been paying attention, the idea came out of The Discovery Institute, a flaming hotbed of creationists, that evolution is after all “just a theory” and “intelligent design” should be taught along side. If Intelligent Design doesn’t ring any bells for you, since creationism was branded as a religious theory and not a scientific theory … in court, it was rebranded as the “Intelligent Design Theory.” Instead of God creating the universe, they refer to some unidentified “intelligent designer.” (I think they secretly believe in aliens with advanced technology, but that is another discussion entirely.)

The Discovery Institute and its minions (read fundamentalist Christians) has been going around to state and local school boards urging them to “teach the controversy” between the two competing theories: evolution and intelligent design. It is “only fair” that the two most prominent theories of how man came to be be discussed.

Of course, there is no controversy in the sciences because there is no intelligent design theory. Their theory is that everything is the way it is because some all-powerful “designer” (wink, wink) made it that way. This is the equivalent of telling a child that “the fairies did it” but to an adult audience.

Anyway, the IDers approach is one appealing to “academic freedom” and “fairness.” This, of course, has nothing to do with academic freedom, which most folks totally ignorant of its roots don’t realize is a principle that teacher’s jobs should be protected from attacks on their politics. These morons, uh, Discovery Institute Fellows, think it means the freedom to teach any damned foolishness one wishes to; it is not. Professors can be fired for not teaching to a departmental syllabus. Plus academic freedom is rarely applied below the collegiate level.

The fairness argument is the one addressed by Professor Miller who pointed out that scientific theories are built brick by brick over a great deal of time with a great many people involved. The theory is advanced and evidence is proffered and people get a chance to test it out, confirm the evidence, posit other measurements and make them, etc. The key of this edifice is peer-reviewed publishing. Intelligent Design advocates haven’t gone through this process. Their theory grew like Topsy and it has produced no testable aspects, which makes it a non-theory. Even so, it claims equal footing with the Theory of Evolution. Cheeky bastards to say the least.

Miller’s point is that what they are calling “fairness” is really an “end run,” bypassing all the foolishness of peer-review and just being granted major theory status by acclimation. I liken it to a bizarre college football scenario. The entire season of Division 1A competition has occurred and the #1 and #2 teams have played off and a champion is about to be crowned, but then a Division 3A team from Seattle, Washington points out that there is quite a debate going on as to which is the better team: theirs or the about to be crowned national champion. And the interesting thing is that they aren’t asking for a playoff between the two teams, they simply want all of the sports pages of all of the newspapers and Sports Illustrated and ESPN, etc. to discuss the relative merits of the two teams. And they want all of our children to read it all.

Does that sound fair? Or even sane?

January 9, 2013

The Creationists Curriculum

John Zande over at the Superstitious Naked Ape Blog (check him out at thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com) keeps egging me on as to satisfying the desires of the Intelligent Design crowd. (IDers are anti-evolutionary biblical creationists in new clothing.) My idea was to just give them what they want, that is to teach the biblical creation story as if it were science. John asks (I paraphrase) “Just what would a science textbook which based all of biology, geology, astronomy, geography, etc. on the Christian Bible look like?”

Having written a textbook I have some expertise in this so I decided to start with the easier part . . . the answer book, you know, the book that has all of the answers to the end-of-chapter questions in the textbook. After much sweat and deliberation plus a thorough review process (insisted upon by my very tough editor) here is what I came up with.

Creationist’s Curriculum Answer Book

Biology
Chapter 1
1. God did it.
2. God did it.
3. God did it.
4. God did it.
5. God did it.

Chapter 2
1. God did it.
2. God did it.
3. God did it.
4. God did it.
5. God did it.
6. God did it.

Chapter 3
1. God did it.
2. God did it.
3. God did it.

Geology
Chapter 1
1. God did it.
2. God did it.
3. God did it.
4. God did it.

Chapter 2
1. God did it.
2. God did it.
3. God did it.
4. God did it.
5. God did it.
6. God did it.
7. God did it.

Astronomy
Chapter 1
1. God did it.
2. God did it.
3. God did it.
4. God did it.
5. God did it.
6. God did it.
7. God did it.
8. God did it.

Chapter 2
1. God did it.
2. God did it.
3. God did it.
4. God did it.

This, of course, is just an excerpt as there isn’t room to print the entire book. Look for the textbook (coming soon).

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