Whose Side Were You On Again?
Just when it seems that the Right is getting its act together by nominating a truly original candidate for president, one that has a chance of moving our republic in more healthful direction, we get a resurgence of conservative-embarrassing silliness from their theocratic fringe.
Why is it so much trouble for the Republican party to step back from one of their more idiotic platform positions? Is it all merely the result of decades of defending traditional ideals against the worst idiotic of the ideas of non-Republicans, and not a few good ideas just because they come from “liberals”? Is tribalistic partisanship the only culprit?
Personally I doubt this; the Right has too many of its own people caught up in ‘magical thinking’. Case in point would be this article, or sermon I should say, targeting Bill Nye for having the temerity to lecture parents about programing their children to believe nonsense instead of science.
‘Creationists’ run the gamut from ‘theistic evolution’ believers so “unitarian” about the subject that they might as well be Deists, their God does not interfere once the Big Bang has the ball rolling, to full on Young Earth Creationists who believe that the Earth, and the entire universe for that matter are barely more than 6,000 years old!
The anti-evolution brand of Creationists have been a long time in building their base, God knows no-one else will give them the time of day once the theistic underpinnings of their “science” is exposed. Unfortunately they have long tuned their message to appeal to uninformed ears. Using “common-sense” arguments and misrepresenting real science the peddlers of YECH (Young Earth Creationist Hokum) depend on the complexity of the subject to prevent anyone in their audience from being able to refute them convincingly.
Creationist presentations are aimed at their target audience’s emotional and religious prejudices, and tailored to the blind spots in their understanding of science and mathematics. There is nothing random about biological evolution when you look at the species level; there is certainly nothing random in the progression of gene-evolution resulting from natural processes!
I could not pass up this opportunity to high-light the manipulative lack of real reason or real science in the apologetics of the creationist creed, this time it is the Right that is in the hot seat. Get your pencil and be ready to take notes Virginia!
”Bill Nye the Pseudoscience Guy
By Terry L. Mirll
In a recent YouTube video, former children’s TV host Bill Nye weighs in on evolutionary biology by telling the rest of us how to raise our children. If we want to deny evolution, he says, that’s our business, “but don’t make your kids do it.” Presuming that what we teach our children is any of his business, a more fundamental question presents itself: how do we presume to teach our kids something that may or may not be true, particularly when we don’t really seem to understand it?”
I sometimes wonder if Creationist writers moonlight as speech-writers for radical Leftists or Islamist apologists; those are the only people I know of that use this blatantly disingenuous style of bull crap. It is all there – from the insulting headline to the bending and twisting of other people’s words, to the all-pervading unfounded assumptions that are meant to lull the ignorant into accepting, instead of questioning, the outrageous.
Let us be charitable and Leave aside the idea that someone who has long been thought of as “America’s Science Teacher” is not the person to publically call out parents for deliberately programing their kids to believe theistic creationism is a science and that tools used every day are unreal simply because those kids parents’ pastors fail to understand BS level science.
No offense but, the conservative Protestant sects have not been known for producing cutting edge biological scientists; for that matter no heavily partisan sect or nation has done well in that regard – think Lysenkoism under the political religion of Stalin.
But what about the last bit? Does our outraged Mr. Mirll have a point here:
“how do we presume to teach our kids something that may or may not be true, particularly when we don’t really seem to understand it?”
Nope, not even close! If it were a valid argument then it would be wrong to teach psychology, sociology, neurology, micro-biology, quantum physics, electronics, climatology (as a SCIENCE, not just the politicized version), metallurgy, all meditation, relaxation or visualization techniques… the list is endless. Being unable to explain in detail all aspects of a phenomena is hardly uncontestable evidence of fallacy; that is why testing is part of the process.
”There is a tendency in the economy of belief to oversimplify. Generally speaking, this is a good thing — or if not good, at least practical. One hardly needs to understand how an internal combustion engine works in order to drive a car.
However, oversimplification is anathema to maintaining a robust and rigorous science. As Einstein famously put it, make it simple, but not simpler. He meant that any theory, if it is to be a scientific one, needs to be reduced to its fundamental elements, without omitting any elements necessary to make the theory workable.”
That last bit was apparently included so that the author could have a nice, high pseudo-scientific platform from which to pronounce the next bit of data-free character assassination.
”In Nye’s mindset, there are two basic positions concerning evolution: 1. You believe in it, or 2. You’re just a big fat doody-head.
This, I would argue, is an oversimplification.”
Without a doubt I agree; Mr. Mirll’s characterization of Dr. Nye’s inner mental functions as supposedly revealed in his video is an oversimplification; after having viewed the video in question, rather than an article about it, I also think it is an insult.
The pattern of demagoguery continues with three paragraphs showing supposed objectivity in the “Science vs. God” debate followed with a flat-out declaration that science, in the person of Dr. Nye, is simply wrong.
“What is most remarkable is that Nye is hardly alone in his asseveration. In fact, the vast majority of people — among those who believe in evolution wholeheartedly, as well as those who see evolution as just so much nonsense — seem to hold the same view. Either we believe in evolution, or we believe in God.
Unfortunately, however, those who hold this view fail to understand what it implies about science and religion, setting up what philosophers of science call the Conflict Thesis — that science and religion are mutually exclusive domains (that is, with no overlap) and are thus at odds with each other. But the Conflict Thesis is incorrect, offering up a false choice: science or religion. What, then, are we to make of Stephen C. Meyer’s claim that “[s]cience, done right, leads to God”?
Additionally, this already overly simplistic notion is further exacerbated by another oversimplification — that science is a rational proposition based on reason, while religion is a spiritual proposition based on faith. Thus, scientific formulations are reliable, based as they are on the Scientific Method of observation, hypothesis, theorization, testing, and reformulation; religion, in contrast, is antithetical to the Scientific Method, akin to fairy tales and superstition. Framed in this way, we can understand the essence of Nye’s concern for what we teach our children: assuming that evolution is scientific, for any parent to teach his child to deny evolution is thus to teach him to deny reason.
And Nye would be right but for the inconvenient fact that he is wholly and utterly wrong, in his basic assumptions as well as his understanding of evolution.””
Now, our defender of parental dignity-in-ignorance marshals his forces of misstatement, misdirection and mischaracterization to defeat the forces of evil reality!
“When we examine the underlying assumptions of Nye’s position, we find:
§ Science is not “based” on reason,
§ Religion is not “based” on faith,
§ There’s no such thing as “the” Scientific Method,
§ Religion is no fairy tale, and
§ Evolution is not what Nye thinks it is.””
Now then, stop giggling Virginia, show respect to older people, even if their heads are spinning slowly widdershins; I am sure Mr. Mirll will “explain” his “logic” in each case.
“First, though reason is certainly a component of scientific inquiry, it is not the only component.”
That was slick; he says ‘not ‘”based in reason”’, then refutes a totally different concept – the idea of reason as the only component of science!
“There are, for instance, any number of scientific assumptions that cannot be proved and thus must be accepted on faith. First and foremost among these is the assumption of uniformity — that what applies to our corner of the universe applies to all corners. (This, after all, is what makes a universe a universe and not, say, a polyverse.) Imagine the caterwauling among physicists if we discover that light travels at a uniform speed within the confines of the Milky Way, but at a variable speed in the galaxy Andromeda.”
This is a willful distortion of science, the assumptions science makes are ones for which we have virtually no negative evidence; if solid evidence of variance is found the assumption is abandoned; such as the very idea that the speed of light can be exceeded by material particles.
To address the non-proof above: if the speed of light were different in Andromeda we would either a. see the difference or b. there would have to be mechanisms built into the universe essentially ‘reformatting’ the light as it traveled to us so that we would see only effects compatible with our speed of light… sounds dumb doesn’t it?
“Nor is reason relegated only to science. Religion, too, has its rational component, with pronouncements based on observation and empirical knowledge. The Buddhist considers the Buddha, studies his life, hears his message of compassion and service to others, and makes the rational decision to emulate him. The Christian hears the story of the resurrected Christ, an event that is claimed to have occurred in real time and witnessed by some five hundred, and chooses to follow him. These are not simply matters of faith.”
He now doubles down on the same strategy with religion; he states one thing then refutes something else but, the fact remains – ‘based in’ is not the same as ‘excluding everything else’
“Instead of “the” scientific method, we find any number of methodologies that share various features but which cannot be said to demonstrate anything akin to a single, uniform method. Consider, for instance, the notion that science is based on observation. If this is a necessary prerequisite to a scientific theory, what are we to make of the claim that our universe may be only one of a series of universes? Has anyone ever observed one of these extra universes? How can such an observation be possible, even in theory? There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever for the multiverse. And what do we call “the evidence of things not seen”?”
The above armchair physics comes courtesy of someone who obviously never bothered to incorporate quantum physics into their version of reality; isn’t this the guy who was so concerned about over-simplification a while back in this very same piece?
All he does is make all of science’s shades of color into a 320dpi black and white line-scan, and then complain that it does not represent the real world accurately. If he bothered to learn the subject he would find that it was the evidence, the results of observation and experiment, that made people see the cracks in the classical view of reality!
The multiverse theories Mr. Mirll disparages are based solely in observational science. To put it succinctly, quantum physics is the most un-refuted theory/world-view in the history of science. It has been held valid in its most bizarre predictions every time those predictions have been tested; I am sorry you don’t understand it, the entire industry involving things we call ‘electronic’ from can-diodes to micro chips is nothing but quantum physics-based engineering.
And the entirety of micro-biology is based in evolution, not as a theory, but, as a tool!
“Those who equate religion with fairy tales fail to understand what the word means. “Religion” comes from the Latin religio, which means “to bind or constrict” and thus entails a twofold meaning. First, it identifies a body of adherents to the religion itself. These need not be adherents of any particular religion; it is sufficient that they identify themselves as members of the group, whatever the group. Second, it is in some way normative; that is, it prescribes what the members of the group ought to believe, though it does not necessarily imply that the members will adhere to their beliefs at all times. In other words, though a Christian will on occasion do things that are demonstrably un-Christian, this does not stop him from being a Christian altogether. Neither aspect of religio has anything to do with fairy tales.”
That is nice. What does this have to do with the myths that form the foundation of almost all religions so adhered to? How does it prove that any religion’s myths that cannot be substantiated by objective historians are on a par with ‘fairy-tales’?
Answer: Nothing, and it doesn’t; moving on…
“In fact, Nye’s own understanding of evolution is itself a kind of fairy tale. For him, it is akin to biological magic, to be believed for its own sake. (Woe unto you, ye unbelievers!) Evolution, he says, “is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. It’s like, it’s very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates.”
Other than a handful of multi-doctorate polymath geniuses who understand first-hand and in detail more than a simplified, cartoon version of what really happens in any of the sciences? That is why science demands theories be testable, and the test be repeatable.
Actually, it’s like, it’s not like that. For one, geologists operated for centuries without believing in tectonic plates. As nifty as plate theory may be, it’s hardly fundamental to the idea of geology; rather, it’s derived from geology, based on current scientific understanding of the earth’s structure.
Virginia, it is not attractive when you cross your eyes like that; stop pretending to be a zombie columnist stalking the brains of gummi-republican.!
I do see your point though; it is hard to know where to begin deconstructing that mass of congealed steer-residue!
Unless you are reading your history while standing on your head the early geologists’ whole purpose in “operating” was to learn what was happening in the way of a dynamic Earth; what exactly does he mean saying that they “operated” in ignorance of most of the how’s, what’s and why’s of the Earth’s structure? Is this how doctors “operated” in medicine before the advent of germ theory?
Did they find gold? Yes, sometimes. Did they know why it formed and where it might be found absent surface clues? Error, faulty, faulty!
And please take note of the lovely all-but-lying way he claims plate tectonics is a nifty theory when the basic notion that the plates exists and move in certain ways is an observed fact. The plates move, have moved and still move.
Young Earth creationists believe that The Flood produced virtually all of the erosion and sedimentation etc. that science understands to be the result of uniform processes over time. They have to go to all sorts of lengths to deny reality though refuting evidence is everywhere to see.
In Southern California is a desert park that has often been used by the movie and TV folks for interesting outdoor locations because of its unique rock formations and convenient distance from Hollywood. It is called Vasquez Rocks and has formations familiar to the entire movie and TV watching world. I mention it because there are several places within the area of a suburban lot that give lie to every Young Earth fairy tale ever told.
There you will find pebbles of metamorphic rock made by sedimentary rock being compressed and distorted and then rounded by water mixed into a sedimentary sandstone, and the whole mess folded over with igneous formations from volcanic eruptions from AFTER the formation of all of the above, AND major water and wind worn patterns in all of the above that are continuous over the different materials; explain to me, Virginia, how all that happened in a forty day flood!
That the movement of the plates explains events organically and phenomena that the creationists have to pretend are still mysteries surely produces the most amazing mental gymnastics given that lasers from satellites in space have for a long time watched and measured the motion of the plates; which in no way deviate from the expectations of the “theory” that Mr. Pseudo-Reason finds so controversial.
Evolution, likewise, is deduced from two primary observations: the fossil record, which, so it is claimed, shows evidence that life represents a continuum of biological forms expressing a progression from the simple to the more complex; and the similarity of hypothetically related species, such as human beings and apes.
We should not be surprised by now I suppose to see this author seeming to tell outright lies, it is part of his faith apparently but, that does not mean I have to respect the lies.
Those two observations are not honestly complete, let alone the only basis for the modern understanding of evolution or for when the theory was being formulated; many different observations and types of evidence went into the mix that produced the first evolutionary theories.
But these are mere claims, not scientifically, independently verified facts. The fossil record is stubbornly discontinuous, and human beings ultimately may only look like apes — a 1972 Chevy Malibu looks an awful lot like a 1971 Chevy Malibu, but this does not mean that the ’72 Malibu is biologically descended from the ’71 model.
It is not nice to stare at crazy people Virginia. Yes, I know that on a biological level, from micro-biology to forensic anthropology there is no genus Homo, and that humans are of the genus Pan, like our only living ‘species’ cousins, the chimps.
Someone hurry and go tell the zoo vets that all the apes in their care are really humans under the fur; think of the money saved in simplifying simian care across the board; not to mention using simian vets to fill the gap in qualified pediatricians!!
Think about it, imagine calling something a ‘canine’ when no other ‘canine’ cousins exist and it is 98% identical in its genes to the lion family of genus feline. Is that a ‘canine’ or just another feline? The pan genus has several species of chimp and we are 98% the same but, we are our own genus? Ri-i-i-ight!
Welcome to Pan Sapiens, Homo Sapiens was a fairy tale!
As far as the “incomplete fossil record” goes I do not expect that any number of ‘missing links’ will satisfy the creationists. They have been making this objection since the fossil record resembled an etch-a-sketch more than an oil painting but, today the record for many species, like birds and horses, looks more like a time-lapse YouTube video and they still make the same objection!
“Nye’s position, then, is no acquiescence to scientific truth; it is merely a component of his belief system. He may as well tell us not to raise our kids as Presbyterians.
And Bill Nye the Pseudoscience Guy can keep his beliefs to himself.”
Sorry, this guy is not making any points at all, now he wants to steal the credibility of the Presbyterians when most of them are comfortable with billions of years and a god that uses evolution; Jesus wept.