May 19, 2024

The Pot Calling the Silverware Black


Last night I went to a debate between my friend, Dr Zachary Moore and Dr Ray Bohlin, a creationist with Probe Ministries, which is connected to the Discovery Institute. The topic was “Is Intelligent Design Science”, so it was an easy win for Zach.

This matter was settled in the 2005 case of Kitzmiller v Dover. At that time, the Discovery Institute was pushing a textbook called Of Pandas and People, and they insisted that Intelligent Design “theory” wasn’t creationism but a scientific alternative to “Darwinism”. Creationists call it that in an attempt to make evolution look like a religious belief. This is just one of many lies they tell all the time.

However investigators discovered that Intelligent Design meets exactly none of the criteria required of a scientific theory, and that every testable claim it makes has already been falsified. But more than that, the textbook in question had been written prior to the 1987 case of Edwards v Aguillard, which ruled it unconstitutional  to teach creationism in public schools. The authors thought they could get around the law if they could hide the fact that they’re teaching creationism illegally. So they decided to revise the book with an automated find-and-replace, changing every occurrence of the word, “creationists” to “design proponents”: except for one place where a typo confused the macro command. There it read, “cdesign propopentsists”. That became the famous phrase explaining how the dishonest Institute lost their court case.

The macro also changed every occurrence of the word, “creationism” to “Intelligent Design”–including the part of the book that defined what intelligent design/creationism is. So they both have the same definition, and the court saw that they were the same thing after all. The cdesign proponentsists lied.

The Bush-appointed religious Republican conservative Christian judge ruled, “It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.” The court also cited a number of these lies specifically.

When Zach explained about cdesign proponentsists, Bohlin complained that he made that sound like a creationist conspiracy, which of course is what it was. During the break, I had a chance to talk to Bohlin. I pointed out that if a group of people realize that what they’re doing is illegal, but they want to do it anyway, and they come up with a plan to cover up what their doing, that meets the definition of a criminal conspiracy. But Bohlin defended this deliberately deceptive obfuscation. He said that hiding illicit activity was “a way working within the law”. No it’s not! That is an attempt to break the law by fraudulent means. I’d never met Bohlin before and never read anything from him, but I was not at all surprised that the very first thing he said to me was a bald-faced lie.

Faith is the most dishonest position it is possible to have. And as I proved with numerous examples in my book, Creationism is driven entirely by frauds, falsehoods, fallacies, fibs, and fakery, and Bohlin demonstrated that immediately.

I also overheard another creationist remark that “evolution has so many frauds”, and I jumped right in. “Name three”, I demanded. I already know that they can’t even name one, but I know which ones they always try to name, and they even have to lie about those. So I posed a two-part challenge. (1) Name one evolutionary scientist who ever lied while promoting evolution over creationism. (2) Name one professional creationist who did NOT lie while promoting creationism over evolution. I’ve been posing this challenge for more than a decade and no one has ever been able to answer either part of it.

“Haeckel’s embryos” he said predictably. As I said in my book, that is always the first name creationists call out.

As I explained on page 349, Ernst Haeckel was a celebrity science communicator. He was the Carl Sagan of his time. So it is not surprising that contemporary creationists like Rudolf Virchow and Louis Agassiz accused him of lying simply because they didn’t want to believe what he was teaching. But the criticism of Heackel’s embryos didn’t emerge until 1997. It was an article in Science titled “Haeckel’s Embryos: Fraud Rediscovered”. The charge of fraud was based was a computerized analysis of his artwork as compared to microphotographs of the same species at the same stages of development. The charge was that Haeckel had embellished these drawings to imply more resemblance than there was based on a critique of his artistic skill. However, it has been shown that this same analysis would also indict Haeckel’s enemy contemporaries on the same charge, as well as modern embryologists too.

A later paper titled “Haeckel’s Embryos: Fraud Not Proven,” published in the journal Biology & Philosophy in 2009, offers a compelling rebuttal to the charges detailed in the 1997 Science article, “The historical and biological evidence, however, shows the charge against Haeckel to be logically mischievous, historically naive, and founded on highly misleading photography.”

The images under scrutiny were taken from Haeckel’s hastily assembled first edition of Anthropogenie. However, each of the subsequent editions had the advantage of better instrumentation, and the accuracy of the drawings improved. But there was nothing wrong with those images to begin with.

Some textbooks removed the drawings and replaced them with modern microphotographs, but creationists complained about those too–because they show the same pattern as Haeckel saw, but that wanna-believers don’t want to look at.

The damning microphotographs published by Michael Robertson in 1997 showed these embryos with yolk and other maternal material that made them look very different. That, and the chicken was photographed at a different angle with a different lens effect than the others, while the salamander was a different size. Haeckel clearly indicated that his drawings were only of the embryos, omitting things like yolk, and that he made them all the same size and oriented the same way for ease of comparison, so there’s no foul to fault.

Robertson, the very researcher who indicted Haeckel in 1997, seems to have softened his view since then, perhaps after his own errors in the indictment itself were brought to light. In a November 2002 paper published in the Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society titled “Haeckel’s ABC of Evolution and Development,” Robertson writes,

Heeckel’s much criticized embryo drawings are important as phylogenetic hypotheses, teaching aids, and evidence for evolution. While some criticisms of the drawings are legitimate, others are more tendentious.

Now the guy I was talking to at this debate wasn’t going to admit that he was wrong and that Heackel wasn’t really a fraud. Being bound to a system of make-believe, creationists can’t afford the slipperly slope of admitting that they’re always wrong all the time. So I didn’t bother trying to get such an admission. Instead I asked for his next example, knowing in advance what it would be. When you’ve heard the same argument thousands of times, it gets predictable. His second example is the one I listed in my book as the typical second answer, Nebraska man.

Again there’s no fraud there. A paleontologist found a badly mishapen tooth that he thought might belong to some sort of ape, perhaps a human. However no one accepted that. His claim was rejected by the entire scientific community. He spent five years looking for supportive evidence and eventually conceded his own mistake honestly. This was not a fraud, but the way creationists depict it is.

I didn’t ask the guy for a third example. I remembered that most creationists can only cite those first two. They really have to know their script to come up with a third one, and usually get confused and distracted instead. So I reminded the guy about naming a creationist who did not lie, because every creationist lies. It’s a job requirement. He suggested that John Morris never lied. So I looked him up on page 363 of my book:

John Morris of the Institute for Creation Research said that Lucy (the first Australopithecus afarensis ever found) was assembled from unrelated pieces found in different places. He said that the strongest evidence of her bipedality was a knee joint that was found over a mile away and hundreds of feet deeper in the strata. But those were different individuals who each bore their own independent evidence of strict bipedality. All of the bones shown in photographs of Lucy were found at a single location. Also, the same geologic layer may be shallow, exposed, or absent in some areas and deeper in others due to erosion, sedimentation, upheavals, etc.

Creationist apologetics is done the same as Republican politics on Fox News. It’s all propaganda. So they twist things around such that good things sound bad and injustice is described as righteous. They misrepresent whatever they can. Morris simply made up parts of this story and relayed it with a deceptive spin.

On page 421, I cited Morris again.

Darwin observed many things in in nature. He was a good naturalist, a good observer of information. What he saw was various plants and animals altering somewhat through adaptation, through variation, he saw them change. We never see one basic type of something changing into something else. That has never been observed in science or in in genetics. It just has never been observed. What we see is variety. Variety happens, adaptation happens. Evolution doesn’t happen.

Evolution does happen, and this twit just admitted it. But he also lied about what it is. What he calls “variation” is evolution, and what he said about “one basic type of something changing into something else” would violate evolutionary law. All evolution is just population-level variation of physical or chemical proportions. Morris has read more than enough about this to know better. He simply doesn’t care.

Did the guy say John Morris or Henry Morris? Both of whom worked for the Institute of Creation Research. No matter. I’ve seen multiple speeches by each of these men, and they’ve both told different lies in each one. On page 395, I logged a couple jems from Henry Morris too.

When science and the Bible differ, science has obviously misinterpreted its data.
The only Bible-honoring conclusion is, of course, that Genesis 1-11 is actual historical truth, regardless of any scientific or chronological problems thereby entailed.

One could say that he is honestly admitting his dishonesty, but he’s still saying that he will never admit when he’s been proven wrong, and that’s still dishonest.

This grotesque example of confirmation bias ties into what one of the other creationists in the audience tried to allege, that “evolutionists were just as biased as creationists”. I jumped on that nonsense too. When I pressed him, the guy immediately admitted that the very purpose of science and the peer review process is to minimize or eliminate bias as much as possible, but he had some singular exception that he thought somehow makes the rule. I don’t know about the case he’s talking about, but if I had to guess, I’d say that someone tried to pass off religious drivel that wasn’t backed by any verifiable facts. That’s what creationists typically do. But I explained to the guy that science is determined to minimize bias while creationists proudly brag about their bias. I told him that every leading creationist organization publicly posts a statement of faith–as if this was something to be proud of–where they admit that they have already rejected all the evidence there could ever be and that no amount of proof will ever change their minds. The guy I was talking to then said that wasn’t true, but I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true. So here is the proof.

 “By definition, no apparent, perceived, or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.”

“[V]erbal inspiration guarantees that these writings, as originally and miraculously given, are infallible and completely authoritative on all matters with which they deal, free from error of any sort, scientific [sic] and historical as well as moral and theological.”
—Institute for Creation Research

“[This school] . . . stresses the Word of God as the only source of truth in our world.”
—Canyon Creek Christian Academy

“[T]he autographs of the 66 canonical books of the Bible are objectively inspired, infallible and the inerrant Word of God in all of their parts and in all matters of which they speak (history, theology, science, etc.).”
—Creation Moments

“The Bible is the divinely inspired written Word of God. Because it is inspired throughout, it is completely free from error—scientifically, historically, theologically, and morally. Thus it is the absolute authority in all matters of truth, faith, and conduct. The final guide to the interpretation of the Bible is the Bible itself. God’s world must always agree with God’s Word, because the Creator of the one is the Author of the other. Thus, where physical evidences from the creation may be used to confirm the Bible, these evidences must never be used to correct or interpret the Bible. The written Word must take priority in the event of any apparent conflict.”
—Greater Houston Creation Association

“Revealed truth: That which is revealed in Scripture, whether or not man has scientifically proved it. If it is in the Bible, it is already true without requiring additional proof.
“. . . Fallacy: that which contradicts God’s revealed truth, no matter how scientific, how commonly believed, or how apparently workable or logical it may seem.”
—Bob Jones University, Biology Student Text, vol. 2 (3rd ed.)
[All emphasis added]

Most of these organizations still exist, and their faith statements are still available online. Each of these organizations announces that they will automatically and thoughtlessly reject without consideration any and all evidence that might ever arise should it conflict with their interpretation of Bronze Age folklore, so they have already rejected all the evidence there could ever be, no matter what we may discover in the future, or how conclusive that is. In other words, no matter how true the truth really is, no amount of proof will ever change their minds.

No scientific organization would participate in anything so Orwellian, so grossly biased, and so blatantly dishonest as this. If truth mattered more than whatever you prefer to believe, this wouldn’t be necessary and it wouldn’t be permitted. But among creationists, what they want to make believe is all that matters, regardless whether it’s true or not. Thus truth is irrelevant.

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